Title: The Tribute Money
Size: 3" x 4"
According to the story in the Gospel, the scene takes place as a series of arguments between Jesus and the members of the Jewish High Council. These discussions are held in the temple, where Jesus gives instruction to the people every day after his entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:23 and Luke 20:1).
Therefore Rembrandt was justified in showing this scene, which had only been regularly depicted since the 16th century, inside the temple rather than in the open air, as several of his predecessors had done. The beautiful composition of the etching, dating from the middle of the 1630’s, bears a close resemblance to Rembrandt’s small painting dating from 1629, which treats the subject in the same spirit, but in a vertical composition. Jesus’ right hand indicates his answer: “ Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Rembrandt expressed the astonishment provoked by these words among his interlocutors in a masterful way. He makes a brief reference to the Pharisees mentioned at the beginning of the story, on whose behalf the trick question was put to Jesus, by showing a group of observers expectantly awaiting the answer in the archway in the background on the left. Rembrandt clearly communicates Jesus’ strength and authority in this masterful composition. As a first state 17th century impression of excellent quality with important provenance, this particular impression is very desirable.
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