Actually, this is not reality TV. In the 17th century, Rembrandt remade Jesus. Gone was the high forehead, the light brown hair with blonde highlights, and the golden aura, an image carried down through the ages with the help of the Mandylion of Edessa, a cloth thought to contain the likeness of Jesus. Rembrandt did not so much reject the Byzantine icon and the usual portrayal of heroics and suffering.
Rather, as part of his long and thoughtful study of the life of Jesus, he reinvented Jesus as a more human, meditative man with long, dark brown hair parted in the center and tucked behind the ears. Jesus was vulnerable, humble, and Jewish. The exhibition, Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus at the Detroit Institute of Arts, explored Rembrandt’s paintings, drawings, and etchings of Jesus. Perhaps today it is these images that you think of when you visual Jesus, but in his time, Rembrandt was on the cutting edge.
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