Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 1606 – 1669

The baptism of the eunuch

oil on panel (63 × 48 cm) — 1626 Museum Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn biography

This work is linked to Acts 8:35

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Tags: Apostles

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The black man is the chamberlain of the Candace, the queen of Ethiopia. He is a eunuch, because only castrated men were allowed in the queen's inner circle.

After a visit to Jerusalem he meets the apostle Philip. The chamberlain asks him to explain a verse from Isaiah he had just read (53:7) to him. Philip explains the verse and then joins him on his trip. The apostle starts preaching Jesus' gospel to the chamberlain.

Later on, when they reach a river, the chamberlain asks Philip to baptise him. He undergoes the baptism in ecstasy, with his hand on his chest and his eyes directed to heaven.

This is a panel Rembrandt made in the first years of his long career. It is inspired by a painting his teacher Pieter Lastman made in 1623. The panel is signed "RH 1626" in the bottom right. It was rediscovered in 1976 in a private collection.

Image credits: Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht, photo Ruben de Heer.

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