Supper at Emmaus | Art for Easter 3A

In the breaking of the bread … recognition

When [Jesus] was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.  (Luke 24:30-31)

Supper at Emmaus, 1628, oil on canvas, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1606-1669

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

When Christ was crucified, the disciple’s world was shattered and their future uncertain. Where would they go? What would they do? Two of them were on the road to Emmaus, a village near Jerusalem, and as they walked, their conversation was about Jesus and the harrowing events of the previous week. What were they to make of news received from the women who went to Jesus’ tomb and found it empty? The women said angels told them Jesus was alive. While the disciples were walking, the resurrected Jesus joined them on their journey. They were unable to recognize him, however, and when this stranger (Jesus) asked what they had been discussing, they became still. Their heads were downcast. The disciple, Cleopas, asked incredulously, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened…?” When asked, “What things?” Cleopas, recounted the ministry of Jesus the Messiah and how he was sentenced to death and crucified.

As the travelers approached the village of Emmaus, it was near evening and the disciples invited the man accompanying them to stay instead of continuing on his journey. Jesus stayed, and when they were ready to eat, he gave thanks for the bread and broke it. As bread was given to the disciples, they were shocked when they realized suddenly the man they met on the road, and now was in their presence, was Jesus. After Jesus revealed himself, he disappeared.

As a youth, Rembrandt’s schooling was in Latin and Religion and in addition to his skills in art, he developed a deep interest in the Bible. In his drawings, paintings, and etchings, he returned to biblical themes throughout his life. Rembrandt was still a young man when he painted the Supper at Emmaus, and it is a subject he returned to later. His earlier painting, shown here, depicts the exact moment Christ revealed himself to the two disciples.

The light source in a painting establishes highlights, shadows, reflections, and it gives definition to three dimensional forms. Often the light is provided by a candle, lamp, or window, and at times more than one source is included. In addition to natural and artificial sources, light emanating from Jesus has been depicted in paintings since the early Renaissance. In Rembrandt’s Supper at Emmaus, the primary source of light comes from Jesus and much of the painting is in shadow. In the background is a dim light surrounding a servant who is unaware that Christ has revealed himself to the disciples.

Upon realizing they had been walking with Jesus on their journey, and that he was now with them at the table, the two disciples were overcome. One disciple fell to his knees at Jesus’ feet. [He is in deep shadow in the central foreground.] The disciple seated across from Jesus is recoiling in awe and is overwhelmed. Perhaps fright is being experienced as well. Rembrandt made dramatic use of light and dark tones to suggest something extraordinary was taking place.

Hovak Najarian © 2017

Image on the Web Gallery of Art

Prodigal Son in the Tavern | Art for Lent 4C

Luke 15:11 Then Jesus[a] said, “There was a man who had two sons.

Prodigal Son in the Tavern

Rembrandt and Saskia in the Scene of the Prodigal Son in the Tavern
c. 1635
Oil on canvas, 161 x 131 cm
Gemäldegalerie, DresdenREMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn
(b. 1606, Leiden, d. 1669, Amsterdam) Click image for more information.

______________
Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Rembrandt and Saskia in the Scene of the Prodigal Son in the Tavern, 1635, Oil on Canvas, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1606-1669

Like other young men in Holland during the early seventeenth century, Rembrandt’s formal education consisted of studying Latin and Religion but when his skills in drawing became apparent, he was guided toward a formal study of art. After an apprenticeship in the studio of Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam, Rembrandt opened a studio in Leyden and was recognized for his exceptional work. His success led him back to Amsterdam which was the most prosperous city in Europe at that time. People of wealth liked having their portraits painted and Rembrandt excelled in portraiture. This brought fame and wealth but he did not manage money well. Soon he was in debt and personal tragedies as well became an ongoing part of his life.

Before financial and personal problems developed, Rembrandt married Saskia. He idolized her and painted her as the Roman goddess, Flora. A person not knowing anything about this painting might regard it simply as a portrait of a woman with flowers but symbolic content and subtexts are often found in an artist’s work. In this portrait, Rembrandt’s admiration and love for Saskia is revealed in his portrayal of her as Flora, the goddess of flowers and springtime. Soon after painting Flora, Rembrandt painted a double portrait representing a blissful time in their recent marriage; the two were young and happy. This painting’s subject, like the “Flora,” also may be appreciated for its subject; in it we see a celebration that does not seem to represent anything other than what it appears to be. Yet a tavern is part of this painting’s subtext and there are similarities between Rembrandt’s drawings of the prodigal son in the tavern and this double portrait.

In 1925, German scholar Wilhem Valentiner concluded that Rembrandt and Saskia are playing roles. Just as an actor may direct a movie as well as play a leading role in it, Rembrandt has cast himself in the role of the wastrel prodigal son; his wife, Saskia, is acting as a carefree prostitute. Valentiner’s conclusion has been supported by an x-ray analysis that indicates the composition once contained a woman playing a lute as well as objects that are associated with a tavern. Rembrandt painted over them as the two principal figures became the object of his attention.

Note
Rembrandt’s penchant for casting family members and people from his community as subjects in scenes continued throughout his life. His study of Latin was likely the source of an early interest in Roman subjects such as Saskia in the role of Flora. As he became older, his interest in biblical themes increased greatly.

Unlike almost every other artist in Europe, Rembrandt did not go to Italy to study the classics. Elements of classicism and its tendency toward formality are not found in his work. Whereas classicism tends to guide a viewer to an intellectual appreciation, the works of Rembrandt contain a sense of emotional warmth and psychological insight.

Hovak Najarian © 2013

The Little Children Being Brought to Jesus (“The 100 Guilder Print”), Art for B Proper 20

Mark 9:33-37
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

 The Little Children Being Brought to Jesus (The 100 Guilder Print)
The Little Children Being Brought to Jesus (The 100 Guilder Print)
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
Dutch, Amsterdam, about 1650
1647-49
Etching and drypoint, 1st state, 278 x 388 mm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Click image for more information.

Commentary by Hovak Najarian
(Previous post September 23, 2012)

In the Hundred Guilder Print, Rembrandt has combined several subjects taken from the nineteenth chapter of Mathew into a composite image. As a result it is known by several titles. Among them are: Little Children Being Brought to Jesus, Christ Healing the Sick, and Christ Preaching. In Rembrandt’s lifetime it was known famously as the “Hundred Guilder Print” and it continues to be known by that title today. As a masterpiece, it was first sold for a hundred guilder; a very high price at the time.

Mathew’s account tells of Jesus departing Galilee and going to Judea where multitudes followed him; many were healed. While he was there, Pharisees came and he answered their questions. When mothers brought their children to him to be blessed, the disciples rebuked them but Jesus said: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” A young rich man asked Jesus what he must do to enter heaven and was told to first give all of his possessions to the poor and then, “follow me.” Jesus noted it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. References to all of these subjects were combined in Rembrandt’s print.

In the center of this etching, Jesus is standing as he speaks to the crowd that surrounds him. At the far upper left a group of Pharisees are debating among themselves and to the right, the old and sick are trying to get closer to Jesus; one of them was brought in on a wheelbarrow. Others are coming in from the right as Peter (behind the pleading woman whose shadow is cast on Jesus’ robe) stretches out his arm to indicate there are too many people in the crowded space already. The rich man has returned to his camel (in the doorway); he is leaving because he cannot give up his possessions. In the central area are a variety of people of humble origins and differing needs. A woman with a child in her arms approaches Jesus (her foot is on the raised area on which Jesus is standing). Another woman (lower left) is holding her child’s hand as he reaches toward Jesus. The child’s dog is nearby. In this etching, Rembrandt demonstrates his remarkable ability to integrate and balance diverse subjects and to unify them in a single composition; the print is a superb example of his genius.

Note

Etching: An etching is made from a copper or zinc plate that has been covered with liquid asphaltum (an acid resistant ground). The artist draws an image on the plate with a scriber but scratches only through the asphaltum surface to expose the plate. The prepared plate is placed in an acid solution that eats into it and creates fine shallow grooves in the areas that have been exposed. The asphaltum then is removed, ink is pressed into the grooves, and the surface of the plate is wiped clean. A slightly moistened paper is placed over it and it is run through a press. The pressure pushes the paper against the ink and, as the paper is pulled away from the plate, it lifts the ink out of the grooves and reveals the image (in reverse).

Intaglio (Italian, from intagliare – to engrave): This term is used for a family of prints in which the ink is held in grooves beneath the surface of a plate. In an etching, acid is used to create the grooves. When making an engraving, the artist removes the metal directly with a burin. When making a drypoint, the grooves are created by scratching with pressure into the surface of a plate (this makes a groove but leaves a burr). Etchings, engravings, and drypoints are all intaglios. Although the Hundred Guilder Print is primarily an etching, it was easier for Rembrandt to use drypoint and engraving techniques when touching up and refining some areas of the plate after it was etched.

______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian

B Proper 20 Art for September 23, 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.

The Little Children Being Brought to Jesus (“The 100 Guilder Print”)
1647-49
Etching and drypoint, 1st state, 278 x 388 mm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Click to open Web Gallery of Art commentary page. Click image for large view.

Related art commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Little Children Being Brought to Jesus (The Hundred Guilder Print), c. 1647-1649, Etching, Rembrandt Harmenzoon van Rijn, 1606 -1669

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Related post B Proper 20 Art for September 23, 2012

In the Hundred Guilder Print, Rembrandt has combined several subjects taken from the nineteenth chapter of Mathew into a composite image. As a result it is known by several titles. Among them are: Little Children Being Brought to Jesus, Christ Healing the Sick, and Christ Preaching. In Rembrandt’s lifetime it was known famously as the “Hundred Guilder Print” and it continues to be known by that title today. As a masterpiece, it was first sold for a hundred guilder; a very high price at the time.

Mathew’s account tells of Jesus departing Galilee and going to Judea where multitudes followed him; many were healed. While he was there, Pharisees came and he answered their questions. When mothers brought their children to him to be blessed, the disciples rebuked them but Jesus said: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” A young rich man asked Jesus what he must do to enter heaven and was told to first give all of his possessions to the poor and then, “follow me.” Jesus noted it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. References to all of these subjects were combined in Rembrandt’s print.

In the center of this etching, Jesus is standing as he speaks to the crowd that surrounds him. At the far upper left a group of Pharisees are debating among themselves and to the right, the old and sick are trying to get closer to Jesus; one of them was brought in on a wheelbarrow. Others are coming in from the right as Peter (behind the pleading woman whose shadow is cast on Jesus’ robe) stretches out his arm to indicate there are too many people in the crowded space already. The rich man has returned to his camel (in the doorway); he is leaving because he cannot give up his possessions. In the central area are a variety of people of humble origins and differing needs. A woman with a child in her arms approaches Jesus (her foot is on the raised area on which Jesus is standing). Another woman (lower left) is holding her child’s hand as he reaches toward Jesus. The child’s dog is nearby. In this etching, Rembrandt demonstrates his remarkable ability to integrate and balance diverse subjects and to unify them in a single composition; the print is a superb example of his genius.

Note

Etching: An etching is made from a copper or zinc plate that has been covered with liquid asphaltum (an acid resistant ground). The artist draws an image on the plate with a scriber but scratches only through the asphaltum surface to expose the plate. The prepared plate is placed in an acid solution that eats into it and creates fine shallow grooves in the areas that have been exposed. The asphaltum then is removed, ink is pressed into the grooves, and the surface of the plate is wiped clean. A slightly moistened paper is placed over it and it is run through a press. The pressure pushes the paper against the ink and, as the paper is pulled away from the plate, it lifts the ink out of the grooves and reveals the image (in reverse).

Intaglio (Italian, from intagliare – to engrave): This term is used for a family of prints in which the ink is held in grooves beneath the surface of a plate. In an etching, acid is used to create the grooves. When making an engraving, the artist removes the metal directly with a burin. When making a drypoint, the grooves are created by scratching with pressure into the surface of a plate (this makes a groove but leaves a burr). Etchings, engravings, and drypoints are all intaglios. Although the Hundred Guilder Print is primarily an etching, it was easier for Rembrandt to use drypoint and engraving techniques when touching up and refining some areas of the plate after it was etched.

______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian

B Proper 18, Art for September 9, 2012

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
b. 1606 Leiden, The Netherlands, d. 1669 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Click to open Getty Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

Christ and the Canaanite Woman
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
Dutch, Amsterdam, about 1650
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, corrected with white bodycolor
7 7/8 x 11 in.
Click to open the Getty presentation page. There you may click image for large view or choose zoom for close inspection.

Related art commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Christ and the Canaanite Woman, c. 1650, Pen/Ink, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Related post B Proper 18, Art for September 9, 2012

Dutch artist, Rembrandt van Rijn, began his career in Amsterdam where a large merchant class appreciated art and had the means to support it. He gained early success but managing money was not a high priority with him and during the latter years of his life he struggled financially. He continued to work steadfastly, however, and produced art of the highest order.

The biblical setting for the drawing, Christ and the Canaanite Woman, is in the region of Tyre and Sidon; two ancient cities of Canaan on the Mediterranean Sea. When Christ was there he was approached by a woman of Syrophoenician origin (far left in the drawing) who begged him to heal her daughter. It was suggested by the disciples that she be turned away but Christ made it known that his ministry was for everyone and the woman was granted her request.

It is standard practice for composers to write sketches of musical themes and for writers to keep a file of ideas. In like manner, visual artists make sketches and use them as source material for their work. Christ and the Canaanite Woman was a drawing made to develop a composition and at this stage Rembrandt was not engaged in details. Arrangement of the figures and their interaction were his immediate concerns; he did not intend this sketch to be a finished piece. Instead, it was a study that was drawn rapidly and loosely in a method known as “gesture drawing.”

As is typical for “preparation drawings,” Rembrandt reworked the sketch and edited it; white pigment was used to cover areas in order to make changes. The drawing was likely a preliminary study for an etching but Rembrandt did not develop it further. It was not used for either an etching or a painting. The reason for not following through could be because Rembrandt had other work that took precedence or perhaps the composition was not resolved to his satisfaction.

Note

Canaan and Phoenicia: The ancient land of Canaan was known as “Phoenicia” to the Greeks. Both names mean the color “purple” which is in reference to the dye that was obtained from the gland of a mollusk – a murex – found there in the Mediterranean waters and harvested. The purple dye was so rare and costly that only the very wealthy could afford it; hence, purple became known as the color of royalty. The color purple’s association with royalty is one of the reasons it has been the traditional color for the church season of Advent. A trend in recent years has been instead to use the color blue for Advent and to use purple for the season of Lent.

Tyre and Sidon: These two cities are in modern day Lebanon and have been renamed: Tyre now is called, “Sour,” and Sidon is called, “Saida.”

Drawing Ink: Rembrandt’s brown ink was made from tannic acid, derived from oak gall, mixed with ferrous sulfate and water. Artists mixed their own inks and often there were differences from one batch to another. This has enabled analysts to examine some of Rembrandt’s drawings to determine which lines were drawn first and which were made later as he reworked a composition.
______________

© 2012 Hovak Najarian