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An old man looks at us with deep, dark eyes. His wrinkled forehead and mottled face suggest a hard life. He asks for our understanding, but a soft light around his face indicates that he’s already forgiven. Rembrandt van Rijn’s self-portrait as the Apostle Paul reflects the Protestant sensibility that an individual can achieve redemption through a direct relationship with God, no matter how broken he starts out. And the painter had troubles enough to challenge his faith: Debt forced him to sell his house and art collection, and his live-in companion, Hendrickje Stoffels, was publicly humiliated by the church for bearing an illegitimate child. In his art, Rembrandt portrayed Hendrickje as the Virgin of Sorrows. Clasping her hands below her breast, she looks down and away, as if suddenly realizing a painful truth; yet she’s enveloped by a rich, warm robe, suggesting a security in God’s grace and her own feminine strength that can overcome the condemnation of any church. “Rembrandt’s Late Religious Portraits” is on view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (to May 11; see City List for other dates) at the National Gallery of Art, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 737-4215. (Hetty Lipscomb)