Tag Archives: Paintings by Rembrandt

#FineArtFriday: History Painting, Titus (with self portrait of Rembrandt) by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn 1626

History Painting, Titus (with self portrait of Rembrandt) by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn 1626

  • Artist: Rembrandt  (1606–1669) Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
  • Title: Historical Scene.
  • Inscriptions: Monogram and date bottom right: RH 16[2]6
  • Object type: painting
  • Genre: history painting
  • Depicted people: Titus
  • Date: 1626
  • Medium: oil on oak panel
  • Dimensions: Height: 89.8 cm (35.3 in); Width: 121 cm (47.6 in)
  • Collection:   Museum De Lakenhal

What I love about this Painting:

This is one of Rembrandt’s earliest history paintings. The young artist went all out to compose and execute this painting. He scoured the city for props, and found old armor and weapons. Then he dressed the players richly in the finest garments of his own day, so as to befit a beloved and respected emperor.

Wikipedia says: Rembrandt’s portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits, and illustrations of scenes from the Bible are regarded as his greatest creative triumphs. His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity.

The level of detail in the weaponry and richly worked garments is remarkable, as are the faces and features of each of the players. Emperor Titus is portrayed as slightly larger than life, noble, wise, and kind.

In the background, hidden by the scepter, we find Rembrandt himself, the witness who happened to come upon the scene and is looking on with wonder. Of the witnesses, he alone is shown dressed in the unadorned muted gray woolen clothing of a common man.

We know Rembrandt was well educated in history, and admired the Emperor Titus greatly, as he named his only surviving son after him.

About the Roman Emperor Titus, the Subject of this Painting (via Wikipedia):

Vespasian died of an infection on 23 June 79 AD, and was immediately succeeded by his son Titus. As Pharaoh of Egypt, Titus adopted the titulary Autokrator Titos Kaisaros Hununefer Benermerut (“Emperor Titus Caesar, the perfect and popular youth”). Because of his many (alleged) vices, many Romans feared that he would be another Nero. Against these expectations, however, Titus proved to be an effective Emperor and was well loved by the population, who praised him highly when they found that he possessed the greatest virtues instead of vices.

One of his first acts as Emperor was to order a halt to trials based on treason charges, which had long plagued the principate. The law of treason, or law of majestas, was originally intended to prosecute those who had corruptly “impaired the people and majesty of Rome” by any revolutionary action. Under Augustus, however, this custom had been revived and applied to cover slander and libel as well. This led to numerous trials and executions under TiberiusCaligula, and Nero, and the formation of networks of informers (Delators), which terrorized Rome’s political system for decades.

Titus put an end to this practice, against himself or anyone else, declaring:

“It is impossible for me to be insulted or abused in any way. For I do naught that deserves censure, and I care not for what is reported falsely. As for the emperors who are dead and gone, they will avenge themselves in case anyone does them a wrong, if in very truth they are demigods and possess any power.”

Consequently, no senators were put to death during his reign; he thus kept to his promise that he would assume the office of Pontifex Maximus “for the purpose of keeping his hands unstained.” The informants were publicly punished and banished from the city. Titus further prevented abuses by making it unlawful for a person to be tried under different laws for the same offense.  Finally, when Berenice returned to Rome, he sent her away.

As Emperor he became known for his generosity, and Suetonius states that upon realizing he had brought no benefit to anyone during a whole day, Titus remarked, “Friends, I have lost a day.”


Credits and Attributions:

History Painting, Titus (with self portrait of Rembrandt) by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn 1626

Wikipedia contributors, “Titus,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,  https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Titus&oldid=950453618 (accessed April 24, 2020).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt Historical Painting 1626 (Detail, with self-portrait).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt_Historical_Painting_1626_(Detail,_with_self-portrait).jpg&oldid=369318658 (accessed April 24, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: Belshazzar’s Feast by Rembrandt ca. 1635-1638

Artist:  Rembrandt  (1606–1669):Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

Title:   Belshazzar’s Feast

Genre: religious art (history painting)

Description: According to Daniel 5:1-31, King Belshazzar of Babylon takes sacred golden and silver vessels from the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar. Using these holy items, the King and his court praise ‘the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone’. Immediately, the disembodied fingers of a human hand appear and write on the wall of the royal palace the words “MENE”, “MENE”, “TEKEL”, “UPHARSIN”

Depicted people: Belshazzar

Date: circa 1635-1638

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 167.6 cm (65.9″); Width: 209.2 cm (82.3″)

Collection: National Gallery


What I love about this painting:

Rembrandt went to a great deal of expense and trouble to paint what he hoped would be seen as a masterpiece. He wanted to be a history painter, as that is where the fame was in his time. While the money was in portraits, Rembrandt also wanted fame. We know this painting was painted before his wife Saskia’s illnesses  and death in 1642, because she was the model for woman behind Belshazzar. She is depicted as being terrified by what is being written on the wall.

Every detail is there, from the finely worked golden ornaments and crown in Belshazzar’s headdress to the king’s golden earring in the shape of a crescent moon. His garments are covered in delicate embroideries in gold thread and sewn with pearls and beads of jet. The garments and jewelry of all the diners are rich and sumptuous; they too wear golden jewelry, with pearls and beads of jet. The shock of the diners, the combination of fear and indignation of the king at the appearance of the hand—these emotions are depicted as perfectly as are the extravagant garments.

About this painting, Via Wikpedia:

Rembrandt’s handling of painting materials and his painting technique in Belshazzar’s Feast are both exceptional and do not compare to any of his other works. The palette of this painting is unusually rich encompassing such pigments as vermilionsmaltlead-tin-yellowyellow and red lakesochres and azurite.


About the story, via Wikipedia:

Belshazzar’s feast, or the story of the writing on the wall (chapter 5 in the Book of Daniel) The story of Belshazzar and the writing on the wall originates in the Old Testament Book of Daniel. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar looted the Temple in Jerusalem and has stolen the sacred artefacts such as golden cups. His son Belshazzar used these cups for a great feast where the hand of God appeared and wrote the inscription on the wall prophesying the downfall of Belshazzar’s reign. The text on the wall says “mene, mene, tekel, upharsin“. Biblical scholars interpret this to mean “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; your kingdom is given to the Medes and Persians”.

The inscription on the wall is an interesting element in this painting. Rembrandt lived in the Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam and “derived the form of Hebrew inscription from a book by his friend, the learned Rabbi and printer, Menasseh ben Israel, yet mis-transcribed one of the characters and arranged them in columns, rather than right to left, as Hebrew is written.” This last detail is essential as it relates to the question of why Belshazzar and his advisers were not able to decipher the inscription and had to send for Daniel to help them with it.

The biblical story does not identify the language of the cryptic message, but it is generally assumed to be Aramaic, which, like Hebrew, is written in right-to-left rows, and not in right-to-left columns as in the painting. Although there is no accepted explanation why the Babylonian priests were unable to decipher the writing, the point of this unconventional arrangement – reading the text in the painting in the conventional row-wise left-to-right order results in a garbled message – may be to suggest why the text proved incomprehensible to the Babylonian wise men; indeed, this explanation is in accordance with the opinion of the amora Shmuel, which is mentioned in the Babylonian TalmudTractate Sanhedrin, 22a, among various dissenting views.


Sources and Attributions:

Belshazzar’s Feast by Rembrandt PD|100 via Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt-Belsazar.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt-Belsazar.jpg&oldid=363468240 (accessed January 31, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Belshazzar’s Feast (Rembrandt)’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 January 2020, 09:24 UTC, <https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Belshazzar%27s_Feast_(Rembrandt)&oldid=936202396> [accessed 31 January 2020]

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#FineArtFriday: The Parable of the Rich Fool by Rembrandt ca. 1627

  • By Rembrandt  (1606–1669)
  • Title: The Parable of the Rich Fool
  • Genre: religious art
  • Date: 1627  Monogram and date bottom left: RH. 1627.
  • Medium: oil on oak panel
  • Dimensions: Height: 31.9 cm (12.5 ″); Width: 42.5 cm (16.7 ″)

 

Rembrandt’s early career focused on religious paintings, which were well received by influential patrons. Today’s featured painting, The Parable of the Rich Fool, is one of his early works, from the time when he shared a studio with Jan Lievens.

 

About this parable, via Wikipedia:

The rich farmer in this parable is portrayed negatively, as an example of greed.  By replacing his existing barn, he avoids using agricultural land for storage purposes, thus maximizing his income, as well as allowing him to wait for a price increase before selling. St. Augustine comments that the farmer was “planning to fill his soul with excessive and unnecessary feasting and was proudly disregarding all those empty bellies of the poor. He did not realize that the bellies of the poor were much safer storerooms than his barns.”


Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “Parable of the Rich Fool,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Parable_of_the_Rich_Fool&oldid=912095443

(accessed September 27, 2019).

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt – The Parable of the Rich Fool.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt_-_The_Parable_of_the_Rich_Fool.jpg&oldid=354111849

(accessed September 27, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1633

Today’s image is of a picture that was stolen in 1990 and has never been recovered.

Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee was painted during one of the happiest years of Rembrandt van Rijn’s turbulent life and depicts the miracle of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. A devout Christian, Rembrandt painted it from the description of the event as reported by the Apostle Mark, in the fourth chapter of his Gospel. As far as is known, it is the only seascape Rembrandt ever painted.

Constantijn Huygens, the father of Dutch mathematician and physicist Christiaan Huygens, had seen Rembrandt’s talent and helped him gain important commissions from the Court of The Hague. Many of his best religious paintings date from the years during which he had the favor of both Huygens and Prince Frederick Hendrick.

At the end of 1631, Rembrandt had moved to Amsterdam. The city was becoming the new business capital of the Netherlands, so there was great opportunity there for artists. In Amsterdam, Rembrandt had begun to paint portraits for the first time, and by 1633, his work was in high demand. His religious paintings and history paintings were also receiving the highest praise.

At first, he lived with an art dealer, Hendrick van Uylenburgh, which was where he met Hendrick’s cousin, Saskia van Uylenburgh. During 1633, the year in which Christ on the Sea of Galilee was painted, he was courting Saskia, hoping to marry her. He was earning a good income as a portraitist, and a bright future loomed. He must have felt in many ways as if he had the world by the tail.

What I love about this painting:

Rembrandt’s colors are vivid, standing out against the darkness of the storm. An entire story is captured in this image. The sea is terrifying, monstrous waves battering the ship, men panicking, trying to gain control. The terror of the event is clearly shown, and you feel fear for the men too. In the midst of chaos, Jesus awakes, calm despite the panic around him. Each face has a different expression, and one, a man holding a rope in one hand and pressing his cap to his head with the other, looks directly at us—Rembrandt himself.

The Gospel of Mark records the incident:

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Rembrandt, a frail man but a devout believer, lived the story as he painted it, as do all good storytellers.

About the theft, via Wikipedia:

On March 18, 1990, 13 works of art valued at a combined total of $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. In the early hours, guards admitted two men posing as police officers responding to a disturbance call. Once inside, the thieves tied up the guards and over the next hour committed the largest-value recorded theft of private property in history. Despite efforts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and multiple probes around the world, no arrests have been made, and no works have been recovered.

The stolen works had originally been purchased by art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840–1924) and intended to be left on permanent display at the museum with the rest of her collection. Since the collection and its layout are permanent, empty frames remain hanging both in homage to the missing works and as placeholders for their potential return. Experts are puzzled by the choice of paintings that were stolen, especially since more valuable artwork was left untouched. Among the stolen works was The Concert, one of only 34 known works by Vermeer and thought to be the most valuable unrecovered painting, valued at over $200 million.[when?] Also missing is The Storm on the Sea of GalileeRembrandt‘s only known seascape. Other works by Rembrandt, DegasManet, and Flinck were also stolen.

Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt van Rijn

  • Artist:   Rembrandt  (1606–1669)
  • Genre: religious art
  • Date: 1633
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: Height: 160 cm (62.9 ″); Width: 128 cm (50.3 ″)
  • Current Location: Unknown

Sources and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Rembrandt Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Rembrandt_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Lake_of_Galilee.jpg&oldid=341966464 (accessed April 4, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “Calming the storm,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Calming_the_storm&oldid=882782126 (accessed April 4, 2019).

The Isobel Stewart Gardner Museum, CHRIST IN THE STORM ON THE SEA OF GALILEE, 1633, https://www.gardnermuseum.org/experience/collection/10953 (accessed April 4, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: Tronie of an Old Man by Rembrandt van Rijn

Tronie of an Old Man by Rembrandt van Rijn is a portrait of Rembrandt’s father, Harmen Gerritszoon van Rijn.  Harmen was a miller in Leiden.

About the word “tronie” from Wikipedia: A tronie (16/17th-century Dutch for “face”) is a common type, or group of types, of works common in Dutch Golden Age painting and Flemish Baroque painting that shows an exaggerated facial expression or a stock character in costume. It is related to the French word “tronche” which is slang for “mug” or head.

Rembrandt’s family was quite well-to-do and as such, young Rembrandt was educated in the best schools, which his father paid for.  Rembrandt’s father encouraged his son’s talent.

To my opinionated eyes, this painting shows Rembrandt’s affection for his father.

Rembrandt resembled  his father, if this portrait was accurate, and I think we can assume it was. As an artist, Rembrandt was unflinchingly honest in the portrayal of his subjects, while always managing to show their humanity.


Credits and Attributions

Tronie of and Old Man by Rembrandt van Rijn

Wikipedia contributors, “Tronie,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tronie&oldid=872242306 (accessed March 15, 2019).

Rembrandt and workshop [Public domain]

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