c. 1629 Oil on canvas,
37,7 x 28,9 cm
Mauritshuis, The Hague
1640 National Gallery,
|Rembrandt's self-portraits are an excellent record of
his life. Compare the portraits on the left to the events in Rembrandt's
life as you read this short biography.
Quoted from the Web
Rembrandt HARMENSZOON VAN RIJN (b. July 15, 1606, Leiden, Neth.--d. Oct. 4, 1669, Amsterdam), Dutch painter, draftsman, and etcher of the 17th century, a giant in the history of art. His paintings are characterized by luxuriant brushwork, rich colour, and a mastery of chiaroscuro. Numerous portraits and self-portraits exhibit a profound penetration of character. His drawings constitute a vivid record of contemporary Amsterdam life. The greatest artist of the Dutch school, he was a master of light and shadow whose paintings, drawings, and etchings made him a giant in the history of art.
1 The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, 2 but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." 3 So to them he addressed this parable. 4 "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? 5 And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy 6 and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' 7 I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. 8 "Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.' 10 In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents." 11 Then he said, "A man had two sons, 12 and the younger son said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.' So the father divided the property between them. 13 After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. 14 When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. 15 So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. 16 And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. 17 Coming to his senses he thought, 'How many of my father's hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. 18 I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers."' 20 So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.' 22 But his father ordered his servants, 'Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, 24 because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.' Then the celebration began. 25 Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. 26 He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. 27 The servant said to him, 'Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' 28 He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 He said to his father in reply, 'Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. 30 But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.' 31 He said to him, 'My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. 32 But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'"
Self-Portrait with Saskia as the Prodigal Son c1636 to 1637,
Gemaldegalerie, Alte Meister, Dresden.
|Form: This portrait incorporates a low key or earth
toned palette combined with a very close point of view. Rembrandt
demonstrates a good mastery of the human face as well as chiaroscuro
. He also uses an intense spotlight on the faces and clothing creating
hard edges where the contours of the figures meet the dark background while
the shadowed sides of the figures seem to merge with the background.
Although the brushstrokes are more visible in this painting, the paint
is fairly thin and there is not very much texture.
Even though the figures in this painting is placed in the visual center of the picture plane the light which rakes in from the upper left hand corner creates a strong diagonal across the picture plane. The use of a diagonal in the composition of the picture plane is a very Baroque device.
This unique double portrait of Rembrandt and Saskia (c. 1635-36) seems to offer an ironic and reflective gaze at his life. Here, too, an etching echoes the subject of the painting, but in the 1636 etched double portrait Rembrandt shows himself at work, drawing as he looks up at the viewer. In the Dresden painting Saskia sits on the lap of a foppishly dressed Rembrandt, who gaily holds up a flagon of ale as he twists to offer a silly grin out of the picture. This tavern setting at once indulges a current "Arcadian" fashion for showing fashionable ladies as courtesans (yet another incarnation of the goddess Flora, with whom Rembrandt had already identified Saskia) as well as draws upon the pictorial tradition of the Prodigal Son with the tavern harlots. It is worth noting that the lavish dress of this couple offers an echo of the finery in the Kassel profile of Saskia, but here the suggestion of loose living and of future repentance from the Prodigal Son analogy also sounds a note of self-criticism.
Rembrandt's interpretation of Biblical stories is highly personal and seems to both reflect his humanity and in some ways is also a reflection of his morals and is also fairly biographical.
Oil on canvas, approximately 8' 8" x 6' 9".
Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg.
|Form: As Rembrandt matures his work changed significantly
in terms of some of its formal qualities. Rembrandt's palette becomes
even more subdued and the bushstrokes become more visible. The paint
also becomes thicker and is laid in thick impastos.
Iconography: The formal qualities of roughening up the brushwork and laying the paint in impastos seems to be an unintentional symbol of how "rough" Rembrandt's life was as he aged.
Rembrandt's final word is given in his monumental painting of the Return of the Prodigal Son. Here he interprets the Christian idea of mercy with an extraordinary solemnity, as though this were his spiritual testament to the world. It goes beyond the works of all other Baroque artists in the evocation of religious mood and human sympathy. The aged artist's power of realism is not diminished, but increased by psychological insight and spiritual awareness. Expressive lighting and colouring and the magic suggestiveness of his technique, together with a selective simplicity of setting, help us to feel the full impact of the event.
approx. 27" x 26", Louvre, Paris
It is to the biblical pictures that we must turn to see Rembrandt's greatest contribution during his mature period. The deepening of the religious content of these works is connected with some shift in his choice of biblical subjects. During the 1630s Rembrandt had used the Bible as a source for dramatic motifs; for example, the Blinding of Samson. In his middle phase he turned to more calm and intimate subjects, particularly episodes from the life of the Holy Family. At the beginning of the mature period the figure of Christ becomes pre-eminent. Scenes taken from the life of Jesus, quiet episodes of his youth, his preaching and the deeds of his early manhood, and his resurrection form the main subject of the biblical representations.
1But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; 3but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. 5They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? 6He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day." 8And they remembered his words. 9Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. 10 The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, 11 but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened. 13 Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, 14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. 15 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, 16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?" They stopped, looking downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?" 19 And he replied to them, "What sort of things?" They said to him, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. 21 But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. 22 Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. 24 Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see." 25 And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. 29 But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. 30 And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. 31 With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. 32 Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?" 33 So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them 34 who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" 35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 36 While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." 37 But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." 40 And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42 They gave him a piece of baked fish; 43 he took it and ate it in front of them. 44 He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And (behold) I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." 50 Then he led them (out) as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. 51 As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. 52 They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and they were continually in the temple praising God.
Rembrandt van Rijn Susanna and the Elders 1647
Mahogany 29 7/8 x 36 1/8 in. (76.6 x 92.7 cm)
|Make sure you read Mencher,
197-214 Susanna and the Elders
Now that you've read the apocryphal story of Susanna and you know a bit about Rembrandt and Gentileschi take a look at these two images and think about how each one of these artists takes the story of Susanna and personalizes it in some way.
at each one of these images, ask yourself who you would trust the most
with your daughter? What kinds of things are different? Why
did these artists choose to depict the story the way they did?
Oil on canvas, 163,5 x 70,5 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Italian Renaissance, Mannerism
Rembrandt, Rape of Ganymede 1635
Oil on canvas, 171 x 130 cm
|You have already visited this theme in the Mannerist
that you know a bit about Rembrandt and Correggio take a look at these
two images and think about how each one of these artists takes the story
of Ganymede and personalizes it in some way.
What kinds of things are different? Why did these artists choose to depict the story the way they did?
apoc.ry.pha n pl but sing or pl in constr [ML, fr. LL, neut. pl. of apocryphus secret, not canonical, fr. Gk apokryphos obscure, fr. apokryptein to hide away, fr. apo- + kryptein to hide--more at crypt] (14c) 1: writings or statements of dubious authenticity 2 cap a: books included in the Septuagint and Vulgate but excluded from the Jewish and Protestant canons of the Old Testament b: early Christian writings not included in the New Testament
apoc.ry.phal adj (1590) 1: of doubtful authenticity: spurious 2 often cap: of or resembling the Apocrypha syn see fictitious -- apoc.ry.phal.ly adv -- apoc.ry.phal.ness n
ar.ca.di.an adj, often cap (1589) 1: idyllically pastoral; esp: idyllically innocent, simple, or untroubled 2 a: of or relating to Arcadia or the Arcadians b: of or relating to Arcadian Ar.ca.di.an n (1590) 1 often not cap: a person who lives a simple quiet life 2: a native or inhabitant of Arcadia 3: the dialect of ancient Greek used in Arcadia
According to the Brittanica,
Modern Greek ARKADHÍA, mountainous region of the central Peloponnesus of ancient Greece. The pastoral character of Arcadian life together with its isolation partially explains why it was represented as a paradise in Greek and Roman bucolic poetry and in the literature of the Renaissance. The region is not exactly coextensive with the present-day nomós (department) of Arkadhía, which extends on the east to the Gulf of Argolis. The capital of the nomos is Trípolis.
chiar.oscu.ro n, pl -ros [It, fr. chiaro clear, light + oscuro obscure, dark] (1686) 1: pictorial representation in terms of light and shade without regard to color 2 a: the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art b: the interplay or contrast of dissimilar qualities (as of mood or character) 3: a 16th century woodcut technique involving the use of several blocks to print different tones of the same color; also: a print made by this technique 4: the interplay of light and shadow on or as if on a surface 5: the quality of being veiled or partly in shadow
According to the Brittanica,
Chiaroscuro (from Italian chiaro, "light"; scuro, "dark"),
technique employed in the visual arts to represent light and shadow as they define three-dimensional objects.
Some evidence exists that ancient Greek and Roman artists used chiaroscuro effects, but in European painting the technique was first brought to its full potential by Leonardo da Vinci in the late 15th century in such paintings as his "Adoration of the Magi" (1481; Uffizi, Florence). Thereafter, chiaroscuro became a primary technique for many painters, and by the late 17th century the term was routinely used to describe any painting, drawing, or print that depends for its effect on an extensive gradation of light and darkness.
"chiaroscuro." and Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM. Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc. November 19, 2002.
genre n [F, fr. MF, kind, gender--more at gender] (1770) 1: a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content 2: kind, sort 3: painting that depicts scenes or events from everyday life usu. realistically
im.pas.to n, pl -tos [It, fr. impastare] (1784) 1: the thick application of a pigment to a canvas or panel in painting; also: the body of pigment so applied 2: raised decoration on ceramic ware usu. of slip or enamel -- im.pas.toed adj
neo.clas.sic or neo.clas.si.cal adj (1877): of, relating to, or constituting a revival or adaptation of the classical esp. in literature, music, art, or architecture -- neo.clas.si.cism n -- neo.clas.si.cist n or adj
rib.ald n [ME, fr. MF ribaut, ribauld wanton, rascal, fr. riber to be wanton, of Gmc origin; akin to OHG riban to be wanton, lit., to rub] (13c): a ribald person ²ribald adj (1508) 1: crude, offensive <~ language> 2: characterized by or using coarse indecent humor syn see coarse
ten.e.brism n, often cap [L tenebrae darkness] (1954): a style of painting esp. associated with the Italian painter Caravaggio and his followers in which most of the figures are engulfed in shadow but some are dramatically illuminated by a concentrated beam of light usu. from an identifiable source -- ten.e.brist n or adj, often cap
according to the Brittanica,
"in the history of Western painting, the use of extreme contrasts of light and dark in figurative compositions to heighten their dramatic effect. (The term is derived from the Latin tenebrae, "darkness.") In tenebrist paintings the figures are often portrayed against a background of intense darkness, but the figures themselves are illuminated by a bright, searching light that sets off their three-dimensional forms by a harsh but exquisitely controlled chiaroscuro . The technique was introduced by the Italian painter Caravaggio (1571?-1610) and was taken up in the early 17th century by painters influenced by him, including the French painter Georges de La Tour, the Dutch painters Gerrit van Honthorst and Hendrik Terbrugghen, and the Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbarán."