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Study of a Man Talking to a Woman Seated on the Left

Rembrandtabout 1635–1636

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn communicated the emotional exchange between these two people with economy and force. He clearly demonstrated the man's stern admonishment as he turns to face the woman's darkened gaze. Concentrating on both faces and the man's hands--the carriers of the drama--Rembrandt used only a few calligraphic strokes to describe the pair's clothing and give them a sense of three-dimensionality. He also engaged the paper, making the blank areas as active in describing the scene as the lines themselves. Even in a rapid sketch, Rembrandt created a sense of narrative, drama, and character.

Rembrandt may have depicted an early event in the Old Testament story of the prophet Samuel. When Samuel's future mother Hannah moved her lips while silently praying to God to give her children, the high priest Eli reproached her, thinking she was drunk.

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