Rembrandt van Rijn, Christ presented to the People, a drypoint

Rembrandt, Ecce Homo

Christ presented to the People (state III)

Christ presented to the People (state VIII)

Christ presented to the People (state VIII)

Height: 288.000 mm
Width: 452.000 mm

PD 1868-8-22-665;PD 1973-U-931 (Hind 271; Bartsch 76)

This imposing image represents a high point in Rembrandt's career as a printmaker. He has organized his complex subject into three horizontal and three vertical bands. In the centre, three figures stand under a dark arch. Pontius Pilate gestures towards Christ on his left, while between them stands the squat figure of Barabbas, on whom the story turns. Pilate asks the crowd if they want Jesus or the bandit Barabbas to be released. 'Barabbas!', they reply (John 18:39-40). Rembrandt concentrates our attention on the human drama and enlarges the scale of Christ, Barabbas and Pilate, so that the story unfolds with a great sense of drama.

A drypoint plate deteriorates quickly during printing, and Rembrandt responded by printing only a few impressions before reworking the plate. Eight states of this plate have been recognized. Astonishingly, in state VI he burnished out the animated crowd below the central platform, and replaced them with two cavern-like arches. The whole composition now focuses on the stage.