The Tribute Money (Le denier de César)
Jesus is being watched carefully by the priests and scribes, who hope to have him arrested as a threat to Roman rule. Asked whether tribute should be paid to Rome, Jesus points to a coin inscribed with the likeness of the emperor and raises another hand to the sky, saying, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.”
Distinguishing between terrestrial and divine authority, Jesus evades the trap as his hostile audience crowds around him, intently listening to his response. The image visually parallels the much earlier scene Jesus Among the Doctors
in the Holy Childhood, though the priests’ early wonder at his precocious wisdom has now turned to frustration and mistrust.
Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
Image: 7 5/8 x 10 7/16 in. (19.4 x 26.5 cm)
Sheet: 7 5/8 x 10 7/16 in. (19.4 x 26.5 cm)
Frame: 15 x 20 x 1 1/2 in. (38.1 x 50.8 x 3.8 cm) (show scale)
Signed bottom right: "J.J. Tissot"
This item is not on view
Purchased by public subscription
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James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Tribute Money (Le denier de César), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 7 5/8 x 10 7/16 in. (19.4 x 26.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.206 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.206_PS1.jpg)
overall, 00.159.206_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
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