The Apostle Paul

Jan Lievensc. 1629

Kunsthalle Bremen

Kunsthalle Bremen
Bremen, Germany

When Rembrandt moved to Leiden in 1625, he worked closely with Jan Lievens. Both had been pupils of Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam and, for a while, they shared a studio in Leiden. When Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam in 1631, their contact waned. A year later, Lievens went to England, where he subsequently served Charles I. Around 1629, both Lievens and Rembrandt depicted the Apostle Paul several times, sometimes using the same model to sit for them. With careful brushwork and a smooth application of paint characteristic of fine Leiden painting, Lievens portrayed the Apostle in a gray habit, with a quill feather in his hand. In a notebook on a pile of books, Paul has begun to record in Greek Chapter Two of his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians. He has paused to formulate his next thought. The most important dramatic device here is the light emanating from an invisible source, which Lievens has used to pick out the head, hands, and the Apostle’s written word as symbols of his intellectual charisma from the picture’s earthen, gray-brown tones. A sword is visible in the shadows, which presages the Apostle’s later martyrdom.

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  • Title: The Apostle Paul
  • Creator: Jan Lievens
  • Date Created: c. 1629
  • Physical Dimensions: 110.5 x 101.5 cm
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Kunsthalle Bremen - Der Kunstverein in Bremen
  • Medium: Oil on canvas