Expanding and refining our vision

Earlier this month I introduced you to Hovak Najarian who will expand our vision as we view Stan’s offerings in art each week. Not only will Hovak expand our vision but he will offer an experienced and educated eye to help us refine our vision as we enter the world of art. On the Third Sunday in Lent Stan directed our eyes to Rembrandt’s painting of Christ driving the Money-Changers out of the Temple. Hovak presents this additional information to help us into the art. ~dan

Comments on Rembrandt’s Christ Driving the Money-Changers from the Temple by Hovak Najarian

Rembrandt’s painting, Christ Driving the Money-Changers from the Temple was painted only a year after his earliest dated work but it already shows his interest and ability to create paintings of emotional depth.  Like his teacher, Pieter Lastman, Rembrandt was particularly interested in faces and in “Money-Changers,” each face, figure, and gesture is a focal point of deep expression.

The art of the Italian Renaissance grew out of a rebirth of classicism (the art of the Greeks in particular). The Greek gods were sculpted with idealized human proportions and this idealization and refinement carried over into Renaissance painting and into the works commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church and wealthy families.  The art of Protestant Northern Europe of the seventeenth century, however, did not reflect the classic ideal and their paintings were less likely to be of Mary and child, the crucifixion, or one of the saints. Their figures were more like everyday people, not idealized images.

Dutch businesses thrived during Rembrandts time and he earned a very good income from painting portraits of his patrons.  Rembrandt also painted Biblical subjects of deep emotional content. There is realism in the faces of the people in “Money-Changers.” They are not men with classic profiles set in place for a lovely picture.  The money-changers’ faces show furrowed brows, mouths agape, and surprised reactions as Jesus moves into action. Jesus is not centrally located in the scene as is often the case but rather he is at the upper left side as though he just entered the scene and caused the money-changers to scramble.  He is not a handsome man with a sweet beatific expression.  He looks tough, serious, and his eyes are focused and intense.  The money-changers seem like real people in a real situation; the painting does not give the effect of a scene that is staged.

The facial expressions and sense of activity of the figures seen in Rembrandt’s earlier paintings gradually changed in focus as he became older.  Instead of movement, his figures tend to remain still with a sense of heavy emotional weight and feeling concentrated in facial expressions.

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© 2012 Hovak Najarian

B Lent 3, Art for Readings for March 11, 2012

REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn
(b. 1606, Leiden, d. 1669, Amsterdam)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

Christ Driving the Money-Changers from the Temple
c. 1626
Oil on panel, 43 x 33 cm
Pushkin Museum, Moscow
Click to open Web Gallery of Art image. Click again for extra large view.
 Contemporary analysis sees Jesus’ action as an attack on Temple political practice itself, not money-changing per se. Money-changing was necessitated by the required ritual sacrifice by pilgrims.

In Christian art whips, flying coins, overturned tables and fleeing Jews make for exciting images and reinforce prejudicial Jewish stereotypes.

sch