Object Image

An Elderly Man as Saint Paul

Rembrandt's pensive Saint Paul belongs to a series of half-length pictures of religious figures that the artist painted in the late 1650s and early 1660s. The dark picture is devoid of unnecessary details, but the saint's traditional attributes are just about visible: an open book sits on the table in front of him and a sword leans on the wall behind him.

A roundel in the upper left depicts an angel interrupting Abraham, who is about to sacrifice his son Isaac on God's order. This important Old Testament episode was favoured by Rembrandt, who painted and etched it before including it here. For Saint Paul, the sacrifice was an example of faith in God. In Protestant theology, Saint Paul was cons...

probably 1659
Oil on canvas
102.0 x 85.5cm
Image and text © The National Gallery, London, 2024

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