Presentation in the Temple, 1630 by Rembrandt

Presentation in the Temple, 1630 is a large etching which treats the theme in its most epic manner, its horizontal format, wealth of figures and episodic groupings pave the way for Rembrandt's even more ambitious crowd scene of the following years, Hundred Guilder Print and The Night Watch.

At the right Simeon kneels before the Virgin bearing the Christ child in his arms, his eyes directed upwards and his mouth about to speak. Behind him, looking solemnly on, is the congregation, Joseph standing immediately behind Mary with his head in shadow and bearing two doves. In the centre Anna advances towards the group led by a shaft of light and the Holy Dove, both her gesture and stature diminished from earlier versions, making her more a part of the action. Although her stride indicates that she has just arrived, her expression and demeanour link her more closely than ever with Simeon - frail, faltering, haunted by death and suddenly beholding the promise of the future. At the left, figures converse or mill about the interior of the temple and a mongrel rids itself of fleas. Life goes on, Rembrandt suggests, except for a chosen few.