galleryThe True Faces of Jesus?09.24.11galleryThe True Faces of Jesus?View images from a new Philadelphia show of the faces of Jesus.09.24.11 1:49 PM ETPhiladelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917Saint Veronica's VeilOne of many images of a holy relic said to have directly captured the true features of Christ. This version was painted in Italy in about 1500. It represents a standard image of Christ that survived, in thousands of variations, from the early Middle Ages right until today. A show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with an interfaith panel on Sunday, looks at how Rembrandt was one of the only Old Masters who dared break with that tradition. The images in this gallery show Christ in both the “standard” version, and in Rembrandt’s updating. To read more about the face of Jesus in art, go to Blake Gopnik's article on our Art Beast page. Collection of Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, GemäldegalerieRembrandt’s Christ “from life”A head of Christ painted by Rembrandt in about 1650. It’s a small oil study, probably painted from life—although it is only a guess that it’s based on one of Rembrandt’s Jewish neighbors. The image is so different from standard portraits of Christ that we might not instantly spot it as representing him. Yet it seems to have been inventoried as a “Portrait of Jesus” when Rembrandt faced bankruptcy in 1656. Warner Sallman’s “Head of Christ”Warner Sallman painted this image in 1940, basing it on a French painting from 1892. It went on to be one of the most popular images of Christ—of anything—ever, reproduced maybe a billion times. It was standard issue to GI’s during World War II and is still a popular confirmation gift. Since Christians try to model themselves on Jesus as their living God, an image like Sallman’s “goes to the heart of what Christianity is,” says scholar David Morgan. Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher Collection, Bequest of Isaac D. Fletcher, 1917 (17.120.222)An image of Christ from Rembrandt’s studioThis is possibly a copy of a lost original by Rembrandt. It is painted at a bigger scale than Rembrandt’s studies from life, as though it were sized up from them to function as a true portrait would. Portraiture was the most acceptable form of Protestant representation, even among groups who disapproved of most art. A “portrait” of Jesus might thus have escaped some strictures on religious imagery. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917<em>Salvator Mundi in a Landscape</em>, by the Master of the Mansi Magdalene. This image was painted in Antwerp somewhere between 1510 and 1530, by an artist whose name has been lost. It channels a tradition for representing Christ that was already almost 1,000 years old. Bob Jones University CollectionAn image of Christ, by Rembrandt or his pupilsOne of Rembrandt’s “portraits” of Christ, probably in a version copied by one of his pupils. Standing in front of all of Rembrandt’s “Jewish” Christs, assembled in Philadelphia, there’s a strange sense that these might not have been painted with any salable product in mind. Taking on the same Christ, again and again and again, feels like an almost devotional act. We know that two of the series lived in Rembrandt’s bedroom. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917<em>Christ and the Virgin</em>, by Robert CampinThis was painted in Flanders in about 1430, when a new realism was starting to take off. The most traditional image of Christ is given a new, tangible presence: note how the gem on Christ’s robe seems to reflect the room in front of him—the room we viewers are in, by his side. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Vivian Hotchkiss Leonis VicondoA head of Christ painted by Rembrandt’s studioRembrandt’s studies of Jesus feel almost like time-lapse photography, capturing a single model as he changes his pose. Did Rembrandt always conceive them as a series, showing Christ alive and in motion? Rembrandt didn’t study any other figure as thoroughly. Harvard Art Museum/Fogg Museum, Gift of William A. CoolidgeA head of Christ by RembrandtBy seeming to catch the same man at several instants in time, in 17th-century Holland, Rembrandt’s series seems to portray Jesus as alive and in our midst. By rejecting the traditional depiction of Christ, which links him firmly to a distant Roman past, Rembrandt makes Jesus present at all times, including among us. Loan Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage (ICN), Rijswijk/Amsterdam, on loan to Bijbels Museum, AmsterdamA head of Christ, thought to be by Rembrandt and his pupilsThe model for this painting is caught as he casts down his eyes—as Jesus might have done in a moment of pain, or doubt. But note that when a printmaker copied the image, in 1699, he billed it as the Greek philosopher Zenon. None of these images is all that securely identifiable as Jesus—which may be why they didn’t prove very influential. Collection Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917A head of Christ, thought to be by Rembrandt and his pupilsJesus seems almost to be speaking—one of the classic achievements of good portraiture in Rembrandt’s own day. Collection Detroit Institute of ArtsA head of Christ, probably by Rembrandt himselfChrist turns to look almost straight into our eyes—but Rembrandt first painted him looking up, then changed the direction of his gaze.