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The Raising of Lazarus: Large Plate (XIII/XIII)

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), The Raising of Lazarus: Large Plate (XIII/XIII), c. 1632, etching and burin, 14 5/8 x 10 3/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Julie M. Malouf Estate, Dallas, Texas.


Rembrandt created multiple etchings and paintings of the raising of Lazarus, an episode recorded in John chapter 11 where Christ calls the deceased Lazarus back to life. In this rendering of the story, Rembrandt evokes the drama and poignant theatricality inherent in such a moment. With an uplifted hand, the powerful Christ commands Lazarus to return from death. Christ’s hand forms the apex of a triangle that extends down to the brightly illuminated Lazarus and outwards to onlookers at right. The gathered mourners respond in shock, as do the disciples grouped behind Christ, their strong gestures conveying similar awe.

The subject of Lazarus’ miraculous revival, a popular theme throughout Christian art, took on pointed applications among Protestant believers. Not only did this story attest to the miraculous powers of Jesus Christ to heal and save, but also illustrated the importance of belief in receiving the grace of Christ. This fundamental tenet of Lutheranism is reflected in Christ’s repeated admonitions to Lazarus’ kin to believe. In a sermon of 1518, Martin Luther discussed the raising of Lazarus as a type of Christ’s ability to save even those sinners who have transgressed beyond all bounds of propriety. Luther stressed trusting in the grace of God to bring salvation above relying on individual works.

Curricular Resources

The MOA has created suggested discussion prompts and assignments for BYU CIV faculty and students to use. Each assignment is based on themes that correspond with GE learning outcomes.

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17th Century