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Q: Dutch art History Commentary ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Dutch art History Commentary
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Visual Arts
Asked by: starmorwen-ga
List Price: $120.00
Posted: 09 Jan 2003 18:56 PST
Expires: 08 Feb 2003 18:56 PST
Question ID: 141011
For my Dutch Art History Final exam I need to know the important facts 
about the following paintings for identification and essay questions: 
Rembrandt-"Saskia at her Betrothal" 1633 
Rembrandt-"Six's Bridge" 1645 
Rembrandt-"Self Portrait, aged 34 (after Raphael)" 1640 
Rembrandt-"Stoning of St.Stephen" 1629 
Rembrandt-"Three Crosses"1653 
Rembrandt-"anatomy lesson of Dr. Joan Deymen.(frag?)"1656 
Rembrandt-"Bathsheba with KIng David's Letter" 1654 
Rembrandt-"Blinding of Samson O.T.W." 1636 
Rembrandt-"Jewish Bride (cyrus + Aspasia?)" 16662 
Rembrandt-"The Nightwatch" 1642
Subject: Re: Dutch art History Commentary
Answered By: ragingacademic-ga on 10 Jan 2003 02:05 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Dear starmorwen,

Thanks for your question.  First, let me request that if any of the
following is unclear or if you require any further research – please
don’t hesitate to ask me for a clarification.

I will address your request painting by painting –

Rembrandt-"Saskia at her Betrothal" 1633

This is the only image in this set I was not able to identify
materials for.  However, two similar paintings may be –

Saskia as Flora, 1634

and/or –

Portrait of Saskia, 1633

Let me know if you would like me to provide you with information on
either of these (or both) in lieu of the betrothal.

(my work includes not only Web and database searches, but also four
reference books I have checked out of the library for this project)

Rembrandt-"Six's Bridge" 1645  

Here is the etching –

Details: Six's Bridge, 1645. Reproductive etching; 5-1/2 x 9 inches.

Another image, seemingly more “original” hues –

This etching is owned by the National Gallery of Art –

Which provides some more detail –

Six's Bridge, 1645
etching, plate: 13 x 22.4 cm (5 1/8 x 8 13/16 in.) 
sheet: 13.9 x 23.6 cm (5 1/2 x 9 5/16 in.) 
Rosenwald Collection

Its background is quite interesting –

“Then there's 'Six's Bridge' (1645), the result of a bet with the
genial Mr. Six that Rembrandt couldn't complete a print in the time it
took a servant to fetch a pot of mustard from the next village.”

“Rembrandt's landscape work, which was almost entirely produced during
the twelve or thirteen years subsequent to 1640, is by no means
numerous, but is in some respects his most fertile artistic legacy.
There is some contrast here to the progress of his other work, most of
the earlier landscape etchings (1640-45), from the oblong Cottage and
Hay-Barn (B. 225) and the Windmill (233) of 1641 to the Omval (B. 209)
of 1645, and that master-sketch of Six's Bridge (B. 2o8) being handled
in bold open lines with little shading.”

The following is excerpted from “Dutch Painting 1600-1800” by Seymour
Slive (Yale University Press, 1995) –

“Rembrandt began a more intimate study of landscape in his graphic
work during these years (1640-1647).  This new preoccupation seems to
have given him a broader outlook.  He roamed around the environs of
Amsterdam, where he made drawings and etchings that capture the
breadth of the Dutch plain and the brightness and airiness of the
Dutch sky with an unprecedented economy of touch.  An example of
Rembrandt’s masterly landscape etchings of the period is the so-called
Six’s Bridge of 1645…”

“…the fact that Rembrandt succeeded in showing all the essential
features of a landscape with the utmost brevity cannot be denied. 
Even the wind in the air is expressed by his suggestive touch.”

Rembrandt-"Self Portrait, aged 34 (after Raphael)" 1640  

Here is a great digital reproduction of the image –


Self Portrait
oil on canvas, 93x80cm
National Gallery, London

“Rembrandt painted this self portrait at the height of his success.
The pose resembles a self portrait done by Durer in 1498. The body is
turned more towards the viewer and the entire arm rests on the
balustrade. The face is painted in short, regular brush strokes. Each
hair of the moustache is rendered separately and his hair is shorter
from the previous year giving him a more dignified look. Rembrandt has
dressed himself as a master from bygone days, but he has managed above
all to remain himself.”

Great article on the Self Portrait as a Self Study with many
references to Rembrandt (and the 1940 painting) –

“Janson summed up Rembrandt's use of the self-portraits well when he
wrote that "...his view of himself reflects every stage of his inner
development - experimental in the Leyden years; theatrically disguised
in the 1630's; frank and self-analytical toward the end of his life,
... yet full of simple dignity." The self-portraits of his last two
decades show that Rembrandt was beyond using himself as a model out of
convenience, and past using his face to test new techniques. It is in
these last two decades that a real exploration of self comes forth. We
see a much more honest view of Rembrandt's features in his later work
than in his famous Self-Portrait, from 1640. In his final
self-portraits dated from 1660 to 1669, Rembrandt appears old,
wrinkled, and tired. Glancing in the mirror, Rembrandt said of these
final portraits, "...and I came, it may be, to look for myself and
recognize myself. What have I found? Death painted I see..."

“The Self-Portrait leaning on a Stone Sill of 1640 shows the new mood
of the period as well as the new stylistic tendency. The artist still
represents himself in precious attire, as he did formerly. He wears a
richly embroidered shirt and an old-fashioned, heavy fur-trimmed
velvet coat. More important, however, is the seriousness and reserve
of the man who has abandoned all signs of sensational appeal to the
spectator. The illumination serves to achieve a more objective
rendering of his face. The arrangement of the figure is also changed.
It is no longer close to the front plane, but recedes behind a stone
sill. The figure has a firmer outline and can almost be inscribed into
a pyramid like shape having the sill as a base. Instead of stressing
the sweeping curvilinear silhouettes of the 1630s, here Rembrandt
repeatedly emphasized the horizontal: in the sill, the position of the
arm leaning on it, the main accent of the face, and even the position
of the cap. These repeated horizontals lend the picture stability,
firmness, and calm.”

See more at –

“This portrait shows Rembrandt at the height of his career, presenting
himself in a self-assured pose wearing an elaborate costume in the
fashion of the 16th century. It seems as if Rembrandt refers
deliberately to his famous predecessors in this portrait, and thus
places himself in the tradition of great 'Old Masters'. The word
'conterfeycel' (more properly conterfeytsel) is an archaic Dutch term
for portrait.”

See more at –

Rembrandt-"Stoning of St.Stephen" 1629  

This is Rembrandt’s first dated work; Rembrandt is depicted as a “bit
player” in this painting.

“Rembrandt ’s first dated work,The Stoning of St.Stephen (1625)well
illustrated his art master ’s influence. Rembrandt ’s sharp, brilliant
technique and ability to convey the sense of physical presence enabled
him to rapidly take over after as the city ’s leading portraitist.”

Also includes an image of the painting as well as additional
commentary –

“From Lastman he took not only his predilection for mythological and
religious subjects but also his manner of treating them, with dramatic
gestures and expressions, vivid lighting effects, and a meticulous,
glossy finish, as in his earliest dated work - 'The Stoning of St
Stephen' (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyons, 1625).”,-rijn-van.html

“In his twenties, Rembrandt gained early popularity with such
paintings as "Descent from the Cross" (1633), "Stoning of St. Stephen"
(1625), and "The Blinding of Sampson" (1636). these early works have a
great number of people portrayed in action…”

“The three works show a great tide of emotion and humanity.”

“In these and other works Rembrandt demonstrates an understanding of
light and shadow which until then only masters such as Caravaggio had

“The "Stoning of St. Peter" shows furor and violence… Costume and
architecture are secondary to the drama taking place in these scenes.
We see faces full of misunderstanding and ignorance and again light
emanating form the protagonist of each Biblical story.”

Rembrandt-"Three Crosses" 1653

Image of the painting –


Title: The Three Crosses
Date: 1653
Location of Origin: Netherlands
Medium: Etching
Original Size: 15 x 18 in
Style: Baroque
Genre: New Testament

Another digital reproduction –

An examination of the painting is offered here –

“For Rembrandt the revelation of creative process through successive
states and differing impressions of a print were fundamental to his
understanding of artistic invention. Sequences of states establish a
partial record of the artist's thinking and rethinking of an idea (see
Christ Presented to the People and The Three Crosses).”

Check out the three different stages.

The following page provides links to images of four states of this
etching –

“Rembrandt's romance with drypoint in the 1650s and 1660s is one of
the important milestones in the history of printmaking. His
inventiveness in this medium led to the creation of compositions that
offered more complex visual information and variety of drama than
previously had been imagined, and whereas earlier intaglio prints had
been translucent and in general rather bodiless, Rembrandt's had a
structure and richness of surface that approximate many of his great
oil paintings. Moreover, they are illumined by an expressive power
that never fails to pierce to the heart of things, whether the subject
be, as it is here, a momentous scene from Scripture or the simplest
study of still life.”

“In the last two decades of his life Rembrandt, withdrawn from society
and no longer fashionable, created many of his masterpieces. These
works were more concerned with human character than with outward
appearance and are the foundation of his unequaled reputation.
Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer (1653; Metropolitan Mus.)
reveals his power to elicit a mood of profound mystery and meditation.
Among the other remarkable paintings of this period is Bathsheba
(Louvre); two of the notable etchings are Three Crosses (1653) and
Christ Presented to the People (1655).”

“One of the most heavily reworked of Rembrandt's etched plates, this
theme progressed from a more figure-rich narrative in the first three
states to a more meditative, sombre, and dark evocation of the gloom
of Christ's death, with the figures of the thieves considerably
obscured. Dramatic use of chiaroscuro for evocative effects. Angular
and crude forms of figures in later versions also redolent of
Christian humility as featured virtue, akin to Hundred Guilder Print.

Rembrandt-"anatomy lesson of Dr. Joan Deymen.(frag?)"1656  

Digital image of the painting –

“In early modern medicine,the anatomist opened the
interior cavities of the body,rendering its secrets accessible to the
eye (vividly presented in Rembrandt ’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Joan
Deijman [1656 ],which
is itself a reflection on the hollowed-out torso in Mantegna ’s Dead
Christ of c.

A good discussion of the incident surrounding this painting is at –

Here’s a quote –

“Dr Deyman was praelector
at the Surgeon's Guild and was also inspector of the Am-
sterdam medical colleges. The painting showed Dr Dey-
man, a group of students, and a cadaver with the cal-
varia removed and the brain exposed.”

The following is an automated translation of a page in a foreign
language –

“Less well-known, perhaps more memorable, is?La lesson of anatomy of
the Dr Joan Deijman (or Deyman), of equal invoice and, now, 113 by 135
cm, originally of 245 by 300 cm, painted by Rembrandt in 1656, exposed
in the anatomical theater of Amsterdam, soon in the hall the
corporation of surgeons, mutilated by a fire in 1723, being able of an
English collector part of the 1800, bought by the city of Amsterdam in
1882 and from 1885 in Rijksmuseum 2.”

Google’s translation is here –

Rembrandt-"Bathsheba with KIng David's Letter" 1654  

Good digital reproduction is at –

Details: Oil on canvas, 55 7/8 x 55 7/8". The Louvre, Paris. 

“Rembrandt...makes the most beautiful nude of his career, in fact, the
last nude painting of his career, a vessel of pure tragedy. In the
1640s, he had made a much smaller version of the same subject in a
sharply different temper. The smile on the face of that Rubensian
blond Bathsheba speaks of naked complicity. It's the expression of a
mindless flirt, a come-on. But the 1654 Bathsheba is burdened by
thought, the lines of the body evoking, for once, the self-containment
of classical friezes to suggest Bathsheba's fatalism; the mood
intensely self-interrogatory. Rembrandt's brushwork has as many calm
passages as agitated strokes, limpid cool tones as well as Venetian
warmth and softness. And it is heavy with telling contrasts - between
the richly brocaded gold robe (painted with loaded strokes of yellow
ocher and black), the garment of her royal destiny, and the pure white
shift of her betrayed innocence; between her own dewy roselike beauty
and the knowing, shaded countenance of the old servant washing her

More here –

And an interesting correlation to the artist’s own personal life –

“Rembrandt's interest in the story of David and Bathsheba, for
example, was strengthened by his own relationship with Hendrickje,
whom he could not legally marry because of the terms of Saskia's will.
Thus, their daughter Cornelia was illegitimate. Hendrickje was called
before the council of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1654, the year of
Cornelia's birth, and admonished. That year Rembrandt painted
Bathsheba with King David~ Letter (Louvre) with Hendrickje as his
model. See Strauss and Van der Meulen 1979, PP. 318-20.
85. On Rembrandt and the story of Abraham, see Smith 1985; Perlove

Rembrandt-"Blinding of Samson O.T.W." 1636  

A great digital reproduction is at –


The Blinding of Samson 1636
Original size - 205 x 272 cm (82" x 109")
Oil on canvas, 236 x 302 cm
Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt

“The story of Samson, which had a great attraction for the Baroque
public, is prominent in Rembrandt's production during the thirties. He
painted Samson Threatening his Father-in-Law (1635, Staatliche Museen,
Berlin) and the Marriage of Samson (1638, Gemäldegalerie, Dresden).
His Blinding of Samson more than any other work shows Rembrandt's
unrivalled use of the High Baroque style to appeal to his
contemporaries' interest in the sensational. It is his most gruesome
and violent work.”

More at –

“Prince Frederick Henry of Orange commissioned Rembrandt to produce
five paintings depicting scenes from the Passion and the resulting
works including the 'Blinding of Samson' (1636) were highly

“The second or 'High Baroque' phase [1620-1640/50]

More at –

Rembrandt-"Jewish Bride (cyrus + Aspasia?)" 1666

Digital image of the painting:


The Jewish Bride (The Loving Couple)
Oil on canvas
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Detail of hands –

“One of them shows a young couple without children. Little is known
about it. Several titles have been proposed, biblical scenes related
to it, a portray has been supposed also. Nothing is really relevant.
The intimacy of the painting is overwhelming and depicts something
genuinely human.
Of course, this scene is also conditioned by time and society.
Obviously, the man is active, the woman passive, the man is demanding,
the woman reluctant. Compare this with my family painting. You'll see
the difference. “

Ø	Biblical:  Isaac and Rebecca? 
Ø	Titus (Rembrandt’s son) and his wife? 
Ø	Cyrus and Aspasia  (17th cen. play)? 
Ø	Tenebrism 
Ø	Painterly brushstrokes  and use of palette knife 
Ø	Tender and sensual

“The style of The Jewish Bride and of the Family Group is Rembrandt's
last manner in which the depiction of form is almost reduced to two
dimensions and there is a delight in the patterns of paint on the
surface of the canvas. It was this style that Rembrandt's last pupil,
Aert de Gelder, was to adopt and continue to employ well into the
eighteenth century.”

“Rembrandt's colouristic power increases tremendously during his last
period, although not all of his mature works display it; some of the
single portraits remain largely monochromatic. The so-called Jewish
Bride of c. 1665, which may be a commissioned portrait of a couple in
the guise of a biblical pair (such as Isaac and Rebecca), belongs to
his most brilliant colouristic creations. Even in reproductions it is
possible to see something of the fluctuating quality of his late
paint, the vibrations of the tones, and the harmonious fusion of the
whole; but they can hardly suggest the warmth of the fiery scarlets,
the golden yellows, the delicate blues and olives, the powerful
whites, and deep blacks of his late palette. The broad, calm,
relief-like arrangement of the life-size half-figures recalls a
certain type of Venetian Renaissance painting. This reveals a touch of
classical taste, but the use of colour in the portrait is quite
unclassical. “

Rembrandt-"The Nightwatch" 1642

Digital image –


The company of Frans Banning Cock preparing to march out, known as the
Oil on canvas
363 x 437 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam


“Rembrandt was at his most inventive in the work popularly known as
The Night Watch, painted in 1642. It depicts a group of city guardsmen
awaiting the command to fall in line. Each man is painted with the
care that Rembrandt gave to single portraits, yet the composition is
such that the separate figures are second in interest to the effect of
the whole. The canvas is brilliant with color, movement, and light. In
the foreground are two men, one in bright yellow, the other in black.
The shadow of one color tones down the lightness of the other. In the
center of the painting is a little girl dressed in yellow. “

“Probably Rembrandt's most famous and most controversial painting was
given its erroneous title the Night Watch in the early 19th century.
The title referred to the subdued lighting and led art critics to seek
all manner of hidden mysteries in the painting. The original title,
recorded in the still extant family chronicle of Captain Banning Cocq,
together with a sketch of the painting, sounds rather dry by
comparison: "Sketch of the painting from the Great Hall of Cleveniers
Doelen, in which the young Heer van Purmerlandt [Banning Cocq], as
captain, orders his lieutenant, the Heer van Vlaerderdingen [Willem
van Ruytenburch], to march the company out."”

More at –

I hope this response adequately addresses your request.  Please let me
know if you are in need of additional information concerning this


Search Strategy:

Rembrandt "self portrait" 1640
Rembrandt six's bridge 1645
Rembrandt Saskia betrothal
Rembrandt "three crosses" 1653
Rembrandt "stoning of st. stephen" 1629
Rembrandt "anatomy lesson of dr. joan" 1656
Rembrandt "bathsheba with king david" 1654
Rembrandt "blinding of samson" 1636
Rembrandt "jewish bride" 1666
Rembrandt "the nightwatch" 1642

Clarification of Answer by ragingacademic-ga on 11 Jan 2003 20:07 PST
starmowen -

Thanks for the ranking and tip!
Good luck studying for your exam.

starmorwen-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Thanks so much for your help in finding out about these paintings.

There are no comments at this time.

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