shelley perlove, phD


Rembrandt’s Faith
Church and Temple in the Dutch Golden Age

By Shelley Perlove and Larry Silver

Penn State University Press 512 pages | 47 color/198 b&w illustrations

Finalist, Charles Rufus Morey CAA Book Award for the most distinguished book in art history published in any language in 2009


Covering all the media Rembrandt worked in throughout his career, Rembrandt's Faith is the only art-historical study to address the full breadth of the artist's religious imagery. Rembrandt weighed in on important religious issues of his day and was a close student of the Bible, using traditional approaches based on Saint Paul to employ typology between the Old and New Testaments. He also shared the Dutch propensity to draw analogies between the biblical tales of the "chosen people" an
d Dutch society, including commentary on righteous leadership under God's covenant. Rembrandt's close reading of the Bible and biblical commentary by Calvin and other theologians was greatly abetted by the publication, in 1637, of the Dutch States Bible translation with notes. He also avidly studied seventeenth-century reconstructions of the Jerusalem Temple and frequently located his biblical narratives in re-creations of these spaces. Rembrandt's Faith raises essential questions about the complex relationships among Rembrandt's art, religion, and the theological debates of his time.


“Like guides in the ancient Temple, Perlove and Silver lead their readers deftly through the complexity and richness of Rembrandt’s religious environment, always keeping the artist’s work at the center of their focus. This book deserves to be read carefully, so that its erudite and revealing analyses—along with the intricate details of the works it explicates—can be thoroughly absorbed. Having achieved the ambitious goal of presenting the first comprehensive overview of Rembrandt’s religious imagery, Rembrandt’s Faith is sure to stand as the definitive book on this topic for many years to come.”  Stephanie S. Dickey, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. Review Published by the College Art Association, March, 2010.

No one will be able to study any aspect of Rembrandt’s religious imagery, from paintings to drawings and, especially etchings, without consulting Perlove and Silver’s volume in advance for suggestions and guidance: the encyclopedic exhaustiveness of the biblical and theological sources perused by the authors with regard to each composition constitutes a motherlode of primary information indispensable for further analysis.”  –Lorenzo Pericolo, University of Montreal. Review in Renaissance Quarterly.

"Rembrandt's Faith is an important book. It is by far the most exhaustive study to date of a subject that is important not only in Rembrandt studies but also, because of Rembrandt’s towering status in the depiction of biblical subjects, for the study of religion in early modern culture." —Gary Schwartz, author of Rembrandt's Universe

"This important book by two distinguished art historians offers new interpretations of well-known works; brings a substantive body of new evidence to bear on the subject; advances the theoretical discussion of Rembrandt's religious works; gathers an impressive array of sources together for the first time; and is well written, with refreshingly little jargon." —Donald McColl, Washington College

“Wonderfully erudite and essential contribution to Rembrandt studies” -Amy Golahny, Lycoming College. Review for the Historians of Netherlandish Art  Newsletter, Vol. 26, no. 2, Nov. 2009. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE



"Assuming a longue durée view of Scripture, Rembrandt's Faith contributes a far-reaching analysis of the Judeo-Christian character that biblical narrative held for Rembrandt and indeed the myriad interconnections of contemporary religious preoccupations for history painting at large. Perlove and Silver's multimedia, socio-historical approach, moving beyond strictly connoisseurial and patronage concerns, will also be appreciated by many. If the authors' characterization of Rembrandt as a man of faith is sure to be controversial, Rembrandt's Faith will nevertheless be a critical reference work for the artist's biblical iconography, for Perlove and Silver, with this magisterial monograph, underscore the dynamic significance of religion for the celebrated realism of Dutch art."  Mochizuki, M. M. [Rembrandt's Faith]. The Catholic Historical Review v. 96 no. 4 (October 2010) p. 824-6.