Rembrandt van Rijn, “Abraham Entertaining the Angels,” 1646, oil on panel, 6 3/8 x 8 3/8 inches, Private collection

A little known, but incredibly moving exhibition is currently on view this summer featuring a privately owned Rembrandt painting shown to the public only a handful of times. Generously loaned to this institution, the painting has sparked an exhibition.

The Frick Collection in New York City was the recent recipient of a remarkable loan from a private collection. Currently on view now through August 20 is Rembrandt van Rijn’s captivating and luminous “Abraham Entertaining the Angels” of 1646. Only shown a handful of times to the public, the generous loan sparked the Frick to mount “Divine Encounter” — a “tightly focused exhibition in which the painting appears alongside other depictions by Rembrandt of the Old Testament figure Abraham — a spectacular selection of prints and drawings from American and international collections,” the museum writes.

Rembrandt van Rijn, “Abraham Entertaining the Angels,” 1656, etching, 6 5/16 x 5 1/8 inches, National Gallery of Art, Washington
Rembrandt van Rijn, “Abraham Caressing Isaac,” circa 1637-45, etching, 4 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches, The Morgan Library & Museum

The show offers viewers a chance to understand Rembrandt’s approach to history painting and the artist’s shift towards religious subject matter from the late 1630s to the late 1650s. “In them,” the Frick continues, “the artist took a progressively deeper interest in the psychological content of the Abraham story, specifically the emotional experience of a father confronting the most magnificent of blessings and the most heartbreaking of losses. At the same time, Rembrandt also began to move away from the physicality and instantaneity of his earlier narrative work in favor of imagery characterized instead by an overwhelming sense of stillness and calm. These are the defining qualities of his 1646 ‘Abraham Entertaining the Angels,’ in which the momentous nature of the event depicted is conveyed solely through light and a single, gently raised hand.”

Rembrandt van Rijn, “Abraham Casting Out Hagar and Ishmael,” 1637, etching, 4 7/8 x 3 3/4 inches, The Morgan Library & Museum

To learn more, visit The Frick Collection.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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