This tale draws upon the turbulent history of Sephardic Jews in 17th century Amsterdam, the artistic preoccupations of the elderly Rembrandt, and the controversial convictions of the false messiah of Smyrna. The central character, Samuel, is the man with his back to the viewer at the centre of a Rembrandt etching that depicts a group of Jewish men conversing in front of a synagogue. This novel gives Samuel a face and a life history. Rembrandt's Model imaginatively suggests how the Wandering Jew - whether traveling in real life, in an etching, or in a dream - was crucial to the spiritual identity of both the Western European and Ottoman cultures. The reader travels over time and place with Samuel - spanning the centuries to the present day, from Spain, to Amsterdam, to Istanbul, and to Montreal.