To create the Jesus that is now so familiar, Rembrandt (1606-1669) rewrote rigid conventions. Early in his career, the artist had adhered to the Christian tradition reflecting an allegedly contemporaneous written description (Jesus had hair the color of a "ripe hazelnut") and a couple of miraculous imprints of Jesus’ face on pieces of cloth. (The Shroud of Turin, though, was not well-documented in Rembrandt’s day.) For Christians familiar with the Old Testament, there has always been something problematic about "graven images" of God, but when the image was not created by the human hand, it seemed "true" and authoritative. In canonical 17th-century imagery, Jesus was a handsome blond fellow, a bit like the classical god Apollo (a link that goes back to the Catacombs, by the way).
I’m not sure I’d say “always” problematic. But at times. Re-View | Philadelphia City Paper | 08/11/2011