Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, 1631 by Rembrandt

In Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Rembrandt has taken the moment when the aged Simeon takes the infant Jesus in his armswhile the Virgin is seated nearby almost completely surrounded by priests and elders. The setting is dramatic in the extreme. The architecture of the temple is on a grandiose scale: vaguely Gothic, half ruined, half finished, it gives an air of total mystery to the whole scene, while Simeon, who has been promised by the Lord that he should not see Death before he had seen the Lord's Christ, recites the Nunc Dimittis.

Rembrandt took his religious subjects very seriously, and his knowledge of the Bible, including the Apocrypha, was exceptional in the sense that he frequently depicted unusual stories. He also has an amazing concern for accuracy to the original text - only rarely does he use artistic licence. It is almost always possible to pin-point the precise source of the subject-in the case of the Presentation Luke ii, 25-35.

Rebrandt's religious pictures from this early period are relatively numerous. During his four decades career, Rembrandt executed 3 paintings, 3 etchings, and several drawings on the theme of Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, and these constitutes his largest body of work on a single biblical subject