To begin with, The Jewish Bride (1667) by Rembrandt van Rijn is a masterpiece of the world art. The picture is painted with oil on canvas. Thus, it is really precious for the world’s art heritage as it is fragile in its composition. To scope out the gist of the painting and its value for an ordinary viewer, one should bear it deep in mind that Rembrandt’s work is a mysterious piece of painting. The whole discussion draws up on the argument that the world of Rembrandt’s ideas on The Jewish Bride is a myriad of assumptions characterizing the artist in terms of his religious views and devotion to the family and people. The artist is apt at describing the real side of devoted people in each detail.
Delving into the idea of producing pictures by Rembrandt one touches upon a set of priorities which the artist valued most of all. The fact is that scholars still have no idea of what the genuine title of the picture is. Debates on this issue touch upon different suggestions and assumptions coming from logical conceptions of two persons depicted on the picture. By the way, the picture was painted during Rembrandt’s final years in 1662. Hence, there comes an assumption that the artist could think of his personal message to the heirs and art cognoscenti. Perhaps, it was an attempt to discover the tragedy or scrutiny of family life which Rembrandt tried to illuminate realistically. Nevertheless, the scholars provide different opinions on the identification of a man and a woman on the canvas.
First of all, one standpoint highlights the figures of Biblical characters, Isaac and Sarah. This idea is well shared among the connoisseurs who amplify the religious dedication of Rembrandt as shown in plenty of his works. Moreover, it is an overt continuation of The Prodigal Son, another Biblically-related picture by the artist. It is likely that Rembrandt expressed regret for some fatal or irretraceable mistakes that he had done in his life. Whatever scholar suppose about the gist of The Jewish Bride, they do it bearing record to the person of the artist himself. This viewpoint needs more justification.
Nonetheless, some experts and researchers are inclined to state the original meaning of the picture in the following way: The name The Jewish Bride refers to the long-held view that the picture portrayed the Jewish father of a bride bidding farewell to his daughter. There is no doubt that such motives can be followed up in taking the looks full of sadness and abstraction along with the postures of two persons on the picture.
Fig. 1 The Jewish Bride
Darkness and masonry behind can tell about the sadness of the moment and its doomed identification for both characters. However, there is a particular mismatch in describing two characters in terms of their belonging to the epoch, trendy innovations, and thoughts. In this respect a characteristic for Rembrandt feature of puzzling is at hand: If The Jewish Bride is a portrait, Rembrandt, by contrast, succeeds in representing his contemporaries so that they suggest another time and place. The artist shows in such a way his adoration of the pure and full-of-divine-nature feelings emerging between people. Once again, his religious views cannot be diminished in a way. The feeling of humane and the significance of a man are quite emphasized in the content constituent of the picture.
On the other hand, the lines and the vividness of the picture amaze, since it seems that the artist was drawing from nature. As a matter of fact, the peculiarity of this Rembrandt’s canvas is that he was doing things not in the same way he used to: In a work such as The Jewish Bride, Rembrandt blurred the distinction between sitter and model, and was not agreeing to serve his patrons. This a splendid example of the artistic burst of emotions, so to speak. Thus, we see an eminent justification of Rembrandt’s artistic flexibility in choosing themes and characters for his pictures.
Turning back to the opinions on the characters’ identities, it is vital to highlight the title of the picture was long unknown until, as stated, 1825 when it was called so by a noble Amsterdam collector of art. On the other hand, no wonder that Rembrandt was well known for his use of models from Amsterdam’s Jewish community. The precursors for Rembrandt’s preferences are taking shape easily. The artistic community was likely to think that such title would definitely fit the sense of the picture, as one may take a glance at it.
In addition, the figures on the canvas are also associated among cognoscenti, as the figures of Rembrandt’s son Titus and his bride. This fact goes out of the warm relationships between father and his son. By contrast, Rembrandt painted his son Titus in a Capuchin habit. At a glance, Figure 2 gives a full-fledged idea on commonalities with The Jewish Bride. The lines and impasto are perfectly implemented by Rembrandt, and if one could imagine the process of Titus’s aging and his maturity, things become easier to understand.
Fig. 2 Titus as a Franciscan
The idea of Rembrandt’s devotion to his family can be judged upon differently, as people are not ideal at all. However, the artist could manage to keep the conception of family life and family relationships sacramental for an observer. Among fifty-one paintings originally attributed to Rembrandt show the similarities in the way he organized his workshop and followed his out-of-this-world technique. The artist seems to have taken inspiration every now and then. The Jewish Bride constitutes the unity of different attributes in respect for Rembrandt’s religiosity (Jewish models, family, previously drawn The Prodigal Son, etc.).
This idea spreads over different opinions regarding the figure of Don Migues de Barrios, an Amsterdam outstanding poet at the time, who professed his Judaism openly and was in good relationships with the eminent figures of Amsterdam which could have served, as one more source of sponsorship for Rembrandt. Admittedly, that the figure of bride on the canvas is referred to his second wife Abigail de Pina. This is one more suggestion as of possible identities of figures in the picture.
However hard the discussion is, it is vital to draw more attention to the technical peculiarity of the picture. Thereupon, as was mentioned above, Rembrandt followed his Capuchin technique in The Jewish Bride. Furthermore, the nature of the unique impasto on the sleeve in the picture sparks special interest: there are neither brushmarks nor tracks of the palette knife. The features of realistic painting are overlapping with the artist’s illusionism evolving into his imaginary feelings for religious themes and their focal prescription for the mankind.
Nevertheless, a unique technique used by Rembrandt in painting people provides a wider composition applied to The Jewish Bride. Two figures are placed so as to show their deep and pure love which cannot be underestimated or valued as something going apart with the picture. What is more, the characteristic feature of the analyzed painting as well as of many others is represented through a plethora of small wavy lines. A special significance is applied to the way Rembrandt draws the looks of both figures: they do not look at each other. A feature of illusionary dreams seems to overwhelm both of the characters.
Talking about the life of the artist, it is quite a widely spread view on his talent, as a Romantic artists whose alienated genius and rebel identify him, as the one to implement his talent solely for limited groups of the society. Further still, Rembrandt was a well-known citizen of Holland at the time. His life excited the society in terms of the amount of new works done for the noble and richest people living, for instance, in Amsterdam. Historians tend to suppose that it was not a fad for Rembrandt, as he leaned toward more isolated atmosphere in order to create his masterpieces. The artist was the talk of the town every now and then: The status of the artist and his art was a lively social and economic issue in Holland around midcentury. However, Rembrandt was constantly in search for his own explanation of why he became so tangible to the world of art.
Thus, the creation of The Jewish Bride was a so-called continuation of Rembrandt’s following his incomparable manner of painting for the sake of genuine feelings shared by love struck persons. To keep a strict eye on the realistic depiction in the picture, it is likely that The Jewish Bride is a manifestation of the late Rembrandt and his maturity in evaluating peoples’ characters and their unsophisticated feeling of love in its perfect, though forbearing magnificence.
One more interesting fact as per the picture is that it is considered by some experts as a probable work by another Amsterdam painter Bol or by followers of both Rembrandt and Bol: After the deaths of Bol, Rembrandt and his followers, unscrupulous art dealers began to forge Rembrandt’s signature on paintings made by anyone working in his style. Thus, it is still a mystery for how the Rembrandt’s signature appeared on The Jewish Bride. However, needless to say, the picture’s techniques and the representation along with the composition are genuinely done in accordance with the peculiarities in painting by Rembrandt.
Again, the figure of a man on the canvas cannot be similar to self-portrait of the artist, as there are age discrepancies pertaining to the artist at his late period in the field of art. However, the figure of allegedly Jewish woman is a mysterious figure used by Rembrandt and particularly found in The Night Watch. The question is that there are some similarities in depicting the principal diminutive enigmatic female figure in The Jewish Bride and in The Night Watch. Taking a glimpse at the Figure 3, one may presumably assume the female figure to be identically similar to the Jewish woman in the picture under analysis.
Figure 3 The Night Watch
Rembrandt’s universe was, of course, enormous, as might be seen out of his plentiful works. Distilling Rembrandt’s appreciation of Jewish people as well as Jewish heritage is supposedly the basis to presuppose his mystery. This is why The Jewish Bride seems to bear the qualities and esprit de corps, so to speak, of Rembrandt and his passion for depicting people naturally with only shapes of some higher sense prescribed to their characters.
By embracing the technical gist of The Jewish Bride one should take a special look at the presentation of lines and shades. The question is that the overall ensemble of the picture is full of vertical and horizontal lines decreasing or expressly emerging at each part of the picture. Notably, the artists was strongly focused on the characters more than on the background: Even the vertical lines in the wall of the well masonry, or the horizontal line at lower right, which could represent a stone bench, emerge merely as a narrow boundary zone between areas of differing brightness, and not as clear contours. Hence, the artist had demonstrated an apparent a bit lower in meaning significance of the background in the picture in order to show off the transition between brighter elements of the canvas and its shading surroundings.
One more significant feature applied to the picture is that, typically to Rembrandt’s manner of painting, the lines of shadow from the heads of both figures come into a better suggestion of their torso. This is why the play of light and shadow are implemented genuinely by the artists so that to toss out doubts of the Rembrandt’s authorship which are also applicable to the discussion on the artist’s heritage. What is more, his masterful economy of colour and brushwork are stated to be inimitable among the experts in the field of art. Thereupon, The Jewish Bride is largely concerned with the inner passion of the author for making colors and lines distinctive in case when he (Rembrandt) could complement such pattern with sense and liveliness.
The Jewish Bride was supposedly being painted by Rembrandt during his stay in Paris while he visited his friend, Paul Freart de Chantelou in 1655. Thus, the motives in Titian style and the splendour of Paris were likely those influencing factors on the passion with which Rembrandt was working over the picture. Hence, he could have made up his mind about the idea of producing The Jewish Bride long before visiting Paris. The figure of a characteristic in features Jewish woman proves this assumption when looking at the series of pictures similar in technical implementation.
Summing up, The Jewish Bride (1667) by Rembrandt is a material artistic corroboration of the fact that social and religious constituents were the paramount for the artist while working over the picture. Adored by people’s sincere feelings, Rembrandt had shown his direct attitude toward the issues of beauty, passion, essentiality, and status of a man in the society. In order to somewhat fade the human factor away, the artist uses the religious subtext, thus, to make the value of the picture universal for the next generations. Taking a look at the facts and comments by the experts, one may definitely agree that this manipulation by meaning through incomparable techniques was successful for Rembrandt.
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 Simon Schama 1999, Rembrandt’s Eyes (1 ed.), New York, NY: Knopf, pp. 153.
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