OUT OF DARKNESS: High Contrast for Religious Focus - Austin Edwards

This gallery serves to demonstrate the various religious artworks of 17th century artist, Rembrandt. The gallery will take a deeper look at Rembrandt's use of high contrast tenebrism to emphasis certain religious elements of each piece.

This painting depicts exactly what the title says. "Christ and St. Mary Magdalen at the Tomb" makes use of high contrast lighting to emphasis the two subjects and to give a sense of drama. Even when the surroundings of the painting are dark, religious figures remain well lit and appear almost glowing.
This is an etching depicting the crucifixion of Christ between two common thieves. We see Roman soldiers on horse back and followers of Christ weeping. A string piercing light from "heaven" is cast from above on the whole scene except for a few figures in the foreground. The high contrast style focuses on the religious figure.
This painting represents The god Pluto abducting Proserpine to take her to the underworld (as told by Homer). We see Pluto and Proserpine near the center and very well lit with use of light colors. The surrounding area seems to be a forest path at either dusk or dawn. People can be seen clinging to Proserpine's dress to help, but are falling off as is implied by the lower value colors.
This painting is technically not a religious painting. It is a self portrait of Rembrandt himself, but dressed as and portraying the apostle Paul. There seems to be one distant light source and therefore high contrasting light and dark values cause the eye to focus on the person and the only other lit object, the book.
This is an etching depicting the beheading of John the Baptist. John and the executioner are shown in lighter values with less shadows in the foreground while the crowd of people is obscured in dark shadows. The background figures were etched in lightly then meticulous cross-hatching was done to darken the background.
This painting depicts the return of the prodigal son from the Bible. The main focal point is the son kneeling by his father. The brothers are seen behind the father in the shadows. The contrast shows the reuniting of father and son and perhaps alludes to the anger the brothers felt in the story.
This etching depicts the events following the crucifixion of Christ. The body of Jesus and the cloth and the "stretcher" are all emphasised by having lighter values to contrast with the very dark background and shadows. In the background you can see (barely) that there are people in the dark tomb.
This etching is almost a continuation of the previous etching. After Christ was taken down from the cross he was place in a tomb. The tomb was a dark cave and is depicted as such. The single light source in the middle is probably the same torchlight from when they were outside the tomb. The faces of the sad followers are shown in lighter values and in focus.
This etching represents the family of Tobias looking on in awe as an angel leaves them. The light from the angel's direction is so intense that the street is flooded with light while the house is cast in shadow. We see figures coming from inside to the street to see the leaving angel. The use of cross-hatching in different directions and the use of different line thicknesses gives the contrast between the light and shadows
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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