A brief overview of the paintings of 17th century Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn at the Rijksmuseum.
While many seventeenth-century artists specialized in a particular type of subject, Rembrandt tried his hand at all imaginable genres. He painted portraits, landscapes, scenes from everyday life, historical events, literary events and scenes from the Bible, along with an occasional still life. The precise subject of this 1626 painting is unclear. We see a company of four people singing and making music.
This painting became known as ‘the Jewish Bride’ in the early 19th century when someone interpreted it as a depiction of a Jewish father bestowing a necklace upon his daughter on her wedding day. It is unknown whether the man and woman were indeed Jewish, but the name ‘Jewish Bride’ has become so ingrained through the years, that it will likely be associated with this painting forever. But what does the painting in fact depict? Many suggestions have been made through the years, but none seems truly satisfactory. One thing is certain: it is a brilliant depiction of love between two people: she timid, he protective and authoritative.
Hands are important in Rembrandt’s work; no hand gesture is without meaning, not even in Rembrandt’s portraits. The hands are the key element in this painting: with her left hand, the girl lightly touches the man’s right, which he has placed above her heart in a timeless gesture of love and fidelity.