When Rembrandt painted, he (more than occasionally) placed himself in the picture as a literal witness to the events.* When I was studying for Matthew class, I noticed that Rembrandt placed himself in “Christ in the Storm” (Rembrandt is in the pink beret, holding a rope, looking out at us):
1. Rembrandt, “Christ in the Storm” (1632) (stolen from Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1990) (1):
The nose is a dead giveaway!
2. Rembrandt, Self portrait (1629) (private collection) (2)
3. Rembrandt, Self portrait (1630) (Stockholm, Nationalmuseum) (3)
4. Rembrandt, Self portrait (1630) (4)
*For me, it was Francis Schaeffer who first pointed this out in How Should We Then Live? (1976): “Rembrandt had flaws in his life . . . but he was a true Christian; he believed in the death of Christ for him personally. In 1633 he painted the Raising of the Cross . . . . A man in a blue painter’s beret raises Christ upon the cross. That man is Rembrandt himself — a self-portrait. He thus stated for all the world to see that his sins had sent Christ to the cross.”