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Storytelling in Miniature

Rembrandt van Rijn
Dutch, 1606–1669

Tribute Money

Etching, about 1635
2 7/8 x 4 1/16 in.
Given in memory of Grace J. Hitchcock, 1973.14Made early in Rembrandt’s career as an etcher, Tribute Money lacks the freedom of his later works. Dense cross hatching gives the characters in this print solidity more akin to Rembrandt’s paintings than to his later prints, which feature an open and linear quality. However, the Italian Baroque interest in strong shadows and directional light are evident throughout. This scene depicts the incident in the Bible when the Pharisees try to trick Jesus, asking him whether it was lawful for Jews to pay tribute money (taxes) to Rome. After asking to see a coin, which carried the Roman Emperor’s portrait and name, Jesus responds, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”