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Title: Rembrandt - A Collection Of Fifteen Pictures and a Portrait of the - Painter with Introduction and Interpretation
Author: Hurll, Estelle M. (Estelle May), 1863-1924
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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            [Illustration: REMBRANDT VAN RYN (BY HIMSELF)
            _National Gallery, London_]



                         Masterpieces of Art


                              REMBRANDT


                   A COLLECTION OF FIFTEEN PICTURES

                    AND A PORTRAIT OF THE PAINTER

                        WITH INTRODUCTION AND

                           INTERPRETATION



                                  BY

                           ESTELLE M. HURLL



                         BOSTON AND NEW YORK

                       HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

                    The Riverside Press Cambridge

                                 1899



             COPYRIGHT, 1899, BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.

       *       *       *       *       *



PREFACE


The choice of pictures for this collection has been made with the
object of familiarizing the student with works fairly representative
of Rembrandt's art in portraiture and Biblical illustration, landscape
and genre study, in painting and etching. Admirers of the Dutch master
may miss some well-known pictures. For obvious reasons the Lecture in
Anatomy is deemed unsuitable for this place, and the Hundred Guilder
Print contains too many figures to be reproduced here clearly. The
Syndics of the Cloth Guild and the print of Christ Preaching will
compensate for these omissions, and show Rembrandt at his best, both
with brush and burin.

There are perhaps no paintings in the world more difficult to
reproduce satisfactorily in black and white than those of Rembrandt.
His marvelous effects of chiaroscuro leave in darkness portions of the
composition, which appear in the photograph as unintelligible blurs.
With these difficulties to meet, great pains have been taken to select
for the reproductions of this book the best photographs made direct
from the original paintings. A comparative study of the available
material has resulted in making use of an almost equal number from
Messrs. Hanfstaengl & Co. and Messrs. Braun & Cie.

In reproducing the etchings the publishers have been most fortunate in
being able to use for the purpose original prints in the Harvey D.
Parker Collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

ESTELLE M. HURLL.

NEW BEDFORD, MASS.

November, 1899.

       *       *       *       *       *



CONTENTS AND LIST OF PICTURES


PORTRAIT OF REMBRANDT. PAINTED BY HIMSELF.       _Frontispiece._

FROM PHOTOGRAPH BY MAISON AD. BRAUN & CIE.

INTRODUCTION

    I. ON REMBRANDT'S CHARACTER AS AN ARTIST

   II. ON BOOKS OF REFERENCE

  III. HISTORICAL DIRECTORY OF THE PICTURES OF THIS COLLECTION

   IV. OUTLINE TABLE OF THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS IN REMBRANDT'S LIFE

    V. SOME OF REMBRANDT'S FAMOUS CONTEMPORARIES IN HOLLAND

   VI. FOREIGN CONTEMPORARY PAINTERS

I.    JACOB WRESTLING WITH THE ANGEL

      PICTURE FROM PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANZ HANFSTAENGL

II.   ISRAEL BLESSING THE SONS OF JOSEPH

      PICTURE FROM PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANZ HANFSTAENGL

III.  THE ANGEL RAPHAEL LEAVING THE FAMILY OF TOBIT

      PICTURE FROM PHOTOGRAPH BY MAISON AD. BRAUN & CIE

IV.   THE RAT KILLER

      PICTURE FROM ORIGINAL ETCHING IN THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON

V.    THE PHILOSOPHER IN MEDITATION

      PICTURE FROM PHOTOGRAPH BY MAISON AD. BRAUN & CIE

VI.   THE GOOD SAMARITAN

      PICTURE FROM ORIGINAL ETCHING IN THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON

VII.  THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE

      PICTURE FROM PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANZ HANFSTAENGL

VIII. CHRIST PREACHING

      PICTURE FROM ORIGINAL ETCHING IN THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON

IX.   CHRIST AT EMMAUS

      PICTURE FROM PHOTOGRAPH BY MAISON AD. BRAUN & CIE

X.    PORTRAIT OF SASKIA

      PICTURE FROM PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANZ HANFSTAENGL

XI.   THE SORTIE OF THE CIVIC GUARD

      PICTURE FROM PHOTOGRAPH BY MAISON AD. BRAUN & CIE

XII.  PORTRAIT OF JAN SIX

      PICTURE FROM ORIGINAL ETCHING IN THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON

XIII. PORTRAIT OF AN OLD WOMAN

      PICTURE FROM PHOTOGRAPH BY MAISON AD. BRAUN & CIE

XIV.  THE SYNDICS OF THE CLOTH GUILD

      PICTURE FROM PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANZ HANFSTAENGL

XV.   THE THREE TREES

      PICTURE FROM ORIGINAL ETCHING IN THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON

XVI.  THE PORTRAIT OF REMBRANDT (_See Frontispiece_)

PRONOUNCING VOCABULARY OF PROPER NAMES AND FOREIGN WORDS

       *       *       *       *       *



INTRODUCTION

I. ON REMBRANDT'S CHARACTER AS AN ARTIST


A general impression prevails with the large picture-loving public
that a special training is necessary to any proper appreciation of
Rembrandt. He is the idol of the connoisseur because of his superb
mastery of technique, his miracles of chiaroscuro, his blending of
colors. Those who do not understand these matters must, it is
supposed, stand quite without the pale of his admirers. Too many
people, accepting this as a dictum, take no pains to make the
acquaintance of the great Dutch master. It may be that they are
repelled at the outset by Rembrandt's indifference to beauty. His
pictures lack altogether those superficial qualities which to some are
the first requisites of a picture. Weary of the familiar commonplaces
of daily life, the popular imagination looks to art for happier scenes
and fairer forms. This taste, so completely gratified by Raphael, is
at first strangely disappointed by Rembrandt. While Raphael peoples
his canvases with beautiful creatures of another realm, Rembrandt
draws his material from the common world about us. In place of the
fair women and charming children with whom Raphael delights us, he
chooses his models from wrinkled old men and beggars. Rembrandt is
nevertheless a poet and a visionary in his own way. "For physical
beauty he substitutes moral expression," says Fromentin. If in the
first glance at his picture we see only a transcript of common life,
a second look discovers something in this common life that we have
never before seen there. We look again, and we see behind the
commonplace exterior the poetry of the inner life. A vision of the
ideal hovers just beyond the real. Thus we gain refreshment, not by
being lifted out of the world, but by a revelation of the beauty which
is in the world. Rembrandt becomes to us henceforth an interpreter of
the secrets of humanity. As Raphael has been surnamed "the divine,"
for the godlike beauty of his creations, so Rembrandt is "the human,"
for his sympathetic insight into the lives of his fellow men.

Even for those who are slow to catch the higher meaning of Rembrandt's
work, there is still much to entertain and interest in his rare
story-telling power--a gift which should in some measure compensate
for his lack of superficial beauty. His story themes are almost
exclusively Biblical, and his style is not less simple and direct than
the narrative itself. Every detail counts for something in the
development of the dramatic action. Probably no other artist has
understood so well the pictorial qualities of patriarchal history.
That singular union of poetry and prose, of mysticism and practical
common sense, so striking in the Hebrew character, appealed powerfully
to Rembrandt's imagination. It was peculiarly well represented in the
scenes of angelic visitation. Jacob wrestling with the Angel affords a
fine contrast between the strenuous realities of life and the pure
white ideal rising majestically beyond. The homely group of Tobit's
family is glorified by the light of the radiant angel soaring into
heaven from the midst of them.

Rembrandt's New Testament scenes are equally well adapted to emphasize
the eternal immanence of the supernatural in the natural. The
Presentation in the Temple is invested with solemn significance; the
simple Supper at Emmaus is raised into a sacrament by the transfigured
countenance of the Christ. For all these contrasts between the actual
and the ideal, Rembrandt had a perfect vehicle of artistic expression
in chiaroscuro. In the mastery of the art of light and shade he is
supreme. His entire artistic career was devoted to this great problem,
and we can trace his success through all the great pictures from the
Presentation to the Syndics.

Rembrandt apparently cared very little for the nude, for the delicate
curves of the body and the exquisite colors of flesh. Yet to
overbalance this disregard of beautiful form was his strong
predilection for finery. None ever loved better the play of light upon
jewels and satin and armor, the rich effectiveness of Oriental stuffs
and ecclesiastical vestments. Unable to gratify this taste in the
portraits which he painted to order, he took every opportunity to
paint both himself and his wife, Saskia, in costume. Wherever the
subject admitted, he introduced what he could of rich detail. In the
picture of Israel Blessing the Sons of Joseph, Asenath, as the wife of
an Egyptian official, is appropriately adorned with jewels and finery.
In the Sortie of the Civic Guard, Captain Cocq is resplendent in his
military regalia.

With all this fondness for pretty things, Rembrandt never allowed his
fancy to carry him beyond the limits of fitness in sacred art. The
Venetian masters had represented the most solemn scenes of the New
Testament with a pomp and magnificence entirely at variance with their
meaning. Rembrandt understood better the real significance of
Christianity, and made no such mistake. His Supper at Emmaus is the
simple evening meal of three peasant pilgrims precisely as it is
represented in the Gospel. His Christ Preaching includes a motley
company of humble folk, such as the great Teacher loved to gather
about him.

It was perhaps the obverse side of his fondness for finery, that Rembrandt
had a strong leaning towards the picturesqueness of rags. A very
interesting class of his etchings is devoted to genre studies and beggars.
Here his disregard of the beautiful in the passion for expression reached
an extreme. His subjects are often grotesque--sometimes repulsive--but
always intensely human. Reading human character with rare sympathy, he was
profoundly touched by the poetry and the pathos of these miserable lives.
Through all these studies runs a quaint vein of humor, relieving the
pathos of the situations. The picturesque costume of the old Rat Killer
tickles the sense of humor, and conveys somehow a delightful suggestion of
his humbuggery which offsets the touching squalor of the grotesque little
apprentice. And none but a humorist could have created the swaggering
hostler's boy holding the Good Samaritan's horse.

As a revealer of character, Rembrandt reaches the climax of his power
in his portraits. From this class of his pictures alone one can
repeople Holland with the spirits of the seventeenth century. All
classes and conditions and all ages came within the range of his magic
brush and burin. The fresh girlhood of Saskia, the sturdy manhood of
the Syndics, and the storied old age of his favorite old woman model
show the scope of his power, and in Israel Blessing the Sons of Joseph
he shows the whole range in a single composition. He is manifestly at
his best when his sitter has pronounced features and wrinkled skin, a
face full of character, which he understood so well how to depict.
Obstacles stimulated him to his highest endeavor. Given the prosaic
and hackneyed motif of the Syndics' composition, he rose to the
highest point of artistic expression in a portrait group, in which a
grand simplicity of technical style is united with a profound and
intimate knowledge of human nature.


II. ON BOOKS OF REFERENCE

The history of modern Rembrandt bibliography properly begins with the
famous work by C. Vosmaer, "Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn, sa Vie et ses
Œuvres." Vosmaer profited by the researches of Kolloff and Burger
to bring out a book which opened a new era in the appreciation of the
great Dutch master. It was first issued in 1868, and was republished
in 1877 in an enlarged edition. This book was practically alone in the
field until the recent work of Emile Michel appeared. In the English
translation (by Florence Simmonds) edited by Walter Armstrong,
Michel's "Rembrandt" is at the present moment our standard authority
on the subject. It is in two large illustrated volumes full of
historical information and criticism and containing a complete
classified list of Rembrandt's works--paintings, drawings, and
etchings.

The "Complete Work of Rembrandt," by Wilhelm Bode, is now issuing from
the press (1899), and will consist of eight volumes containing
reproductions of all the master's pictures, with historical and
descriptive text. It is to be hoped that this mammoth and costly work
will be put into many large reference libraries, where students may
consult it to see Rembrandt's work in its entirety.

The series of small German monographs edited by H. Knackfuss and now
translated into English has one number devoted to Rembrandt,
containing nearly one hundred and sixty reproductions from his works,
with descriptive text. Kugler's "Handbook of the German, Flemish, and
Dutch Schools," revised by J. A. Crowe, includes a brief account of
Rembrandt's life and work, which may be taken as valuable and
trustworthy. For a critical estimate of the character of Rembrandt's
art, its strength and weaknesses, and its peculiarities, nothing can
be more interesting than what Eugene Fromentin, French painter and
critic, has written in his "Old Masters of Belgium and Holland."

Rembrandt's etchings have been the exclusive subject of many books.
There are voluminous descriptive catalogues by Bartsch ("Le Peintre
Graveur") Claussin, Wilson, Charles Blanc, Middleton, and Dutuit. A
short monograph on "The Etchings of Rembrandt," by Philip Gilbert
Hamerton (London, 1896), reviews the most famous prints in a very
pleasant way.

There are valuable prints from the original plates of Rembrandt in the
Harvey D. Parker collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and in
the Gray collection of the Fogg Museum at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Those who are not fortunate enough to have access to original prints
will derive much satisfaction from the complete set of reproductions
published in St. Petersburg (1890) with catalogue by Rovinski, and
from the excellent reproductions of Amand Durand, Paris.

To come in touch with the spirit of the times and of the country of
Rembrandt, the reader is referred to Motley's "Rise of the Dutch
Republic," condensed and continued by W. E. Griffis.


III. HISTORICAL DIRECTORY OF THE PICTURES OF THIS COLLECTION

_Portrait Frontispiece_. National Gallery, London. Signed and dated
1640.

1. _Jacob Wrestling with the Angel_. Berlin Gallery. Signed and dated
1659. Figures life size. Size: 4 ft. 5-1/16 in. by 3 ft. 9-5/8 in.

2. _Israel Blessing the Sons of Joseph_. Cassel Gallery. Signed and
dated 1656. Figures life size. Size: 5 ft. 8-9/16 in. by 6 ft. 6-3/4
in.

3. _The Angel Raphael Leaving the Family of Tobit_. Louvre, Paris.
Signed and dated 1637. Size: 2 ft. 2-13/16 in. by 1 ft. 8-1/2 in.

4. _The Rat Killer_. Etching. Signed and dated 1632. Size: 5-1/2 in.
by 4-9/16 in.

5. _The Philosopher in Meditation_. Louvre, Paris. Signed and dated
1633. Size: 11-7/16 in. by 13 in.

6. _The Good Samaritan_. Etching. Signed and dated 1633. Size: 10-1/5
in. by 8-3/5 in.

7. _The Presentation in the Temple_. At the Hague. Signed and dated
1631. Size: 2 ft. 4-11/16 in. by 1 ft. 6-7/8 in.

8. _Christ Preaching_. Etching. Date assigned by Michel, about 1652.
Size: 6-1/5 in. by 8-1/5 in.

9. _Christ at Emmaus_. Louvre, Paris. Signed and dated 1648. Size: 2
ft. 2-13/16 in. by 2 ft. 1-5/8 in.

10. _Portrait of Saskia_. Cassel Gallery. Painted about 1632-1634.
Life size. Size: 3 ft. 2-11/16 in. by 2 ft. 1-3/5 in.

11. _Sortie of the Civic Guard_. Ryks Museum (Trippenhuis), Amsterdam.
Signed and dated 1642. Life size figures. Size: 11 ft. 9-3/8 in. by 14
ft. 3-5/16 in.

12. _Portrait of Jan Six_. Etching. Signed and dated 1647. Size: about
9-3/8 in. by 7-3/8 in.

13. _Portrait of an Old Woman_. Hermitage Gallery, St. Petersburg.
Signed and dated 1654. Size: 3 ft. 6-7/8 in. by 2 ft. 9 in.

14. _The Syndics of the Cloth Guild_. Ryks Museum (Trippenhuis),
Amsterdam. Signed and dated 1661. Life size figures. Size: 6 ft. 7/8
in. by 8 ft. 11-15/16 in.

15. _The Three Trees_. Etching, 1643. Size: 8-2/5 in. by 11 in.


IV. OUTLINE TABLE OF THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS IN REMBRANDT'S LIFE

1606.[1] Rembrandt born in Leyden.

1621. Rembrandt apprenticed to the painter, Jacob van Swanenburch.

1624. Rembrandt studied six months with Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam.

1627. Rembrandt's earliest known works, St. Paul in Prison, (Stuttgart
Museum); The Money Changers (Berlin Gallery).

1631. Rembrandt removed to Amsterdam.

1631. The Presentation painted.

1632. The Anatomy Lecture painted.

1633. The portrait of the Shipbuilder and his Wife painted.

1634. Rembrandt married Saskia van Uylenborch, June 22, in Bildt.

1635. Rembrandt's son Rombertus baptized December 15. (Died in
infancy.)

1637. Angel Raphael Leaving Family of Tobit painted.

1638. Rembrandt's daughter Cornelia born. (Died in early childhood.)

1639. Rembrandt bought a house in the Joden Breestraat.

1640. Rembrandt's second daughter born and died.

1640. Rembrandt's mother died.

1640. The Carpenter's Household painted.

1641. Manoah's Prayer painted.

1641. Rembrandt's son Titus baptized.

1642. Sortie of the Civic Guard (The Night Watch) painted for the hall
of the Amsterdam Musketeers.

[Footnote 1: Authorities are not entirely unanimous as to the date of
Rembrandt's birth.]

1642. Rembrandt's wife, Saskia, died.

1648. Christ at Emmaus painted.

1649. The Hundred Guilder print etched.

1651. Christ Appearing to Magdalen painted.

1652. Christ Preaching etched.

1656. Rembrandt's bankruptcy.

1656. Israel Blessing the Sons of Joseph painted.

1661. Portrait of the Syndics painted for the Guild of Drapers,
Amsterdam.

1668. Rembrandt's son Titus died.

1669. Rembrandt died.


V. SOME OF REMBRANDT'S FAMOUS CONTEMPORARIES IN HOLLAND

Frederick Henry of Orange, stadtholder, 1625. Princess Amalia of
Solms, wife of Frederick Henry, built the Huis ten Bosch (House in the
Woods) at the Hague, 1647.

William II of Orange, stadtholder, 1647. In 1650 the stadt-holderate
was suppressed, and John de Witt became in 1653 chief executive of the
republic for twenty years. Murdered in 1672.

John of Barneveld, Grand Pensioner, "the greatest statesman in all the
history of the Netherlands" (Griffis). Executed May 24, 1619.

Michael de Ruyter, "the Dutch Nelson," died 1676.

Marten Harpertzoon von Tromp, admiral. Born 1597; died 1691. (He
defeated the English fleet under Blake.)

Cornelius Evertsen, admiral.

Floriszoon, admiral.

Witte de With, admiral.

Hendrik Hudson, navigator and discoverer; first voyage, 1607, last
voyage, 1610.

Captain Zeachen, discoverer.

Hugo Grotius, father of international law, 1583-1645.

Jan Six, burgomaster, bibliophile, art connoisseur, and dramatist,
1618-1700.

Spinoza, philosopher, 1622-1677.

Joost van den Vondel, poet and dramatist, 1587-1679.

Jacob Cats, Grand Pensionary and poet, 1577-1660.

Constantine Huyghens, poet.

Gysbart Voet (Latin, Voetius) 1588-1678, professor of theology at
Utrecht.

Cornelis Jansen, born 1585. Professor of scripture interpretation at
Louvain.

Johannes Koch (Latin, Coccejus), 1603-1669, professor of theology at
Leyden and, "after Erasmus, the father of modern Biblical criticism."

J. van Kampen, architect, built the Het Palais (Royal Palace) in
Amsterdam, 1648.

Jansz Vinckenbrink, sculptor.

Hendrik de Keyser, sculptor.

Crabeth brothers, designers of stained glass.

Painters:--

Franz Hals, 1584-1666.

Gerard Honthorst, 1590-1656.

Albert Cuyp, 1605-1691.

Jan van Goyen, 1596-1656.

Jacob Ruysdael, 1625-1682.

Paul Potter, 1625-1654.

Jan Lievens, born 1607; died after 1672.

Salomon Koning, 1609-1668.

Gerard Terburg, 1608-1681.

Nicolas Berghem, 1620-1683.

Jan Steen, 1626-1679.

Adrian van Ostade, 1610-1685.

Rembrandt's pupils:--

Ferdinand Bol, 1616-1680.

Govert Flinck, 1615-1660.

Van den Eeckhont, 1620-1674.

Gerard Don, 1613-1680.

Nicolas Maes, 1632-1693.

Juriaen Ovens, 1623.

Hendrick Heerschop, born 1620, entered Rembrandt's studio, 1644.

Carl Fabritius, 1624-1654.

Samuel van Hoogstraaten, born 1627, with Rembrandt, 1640-1650.

Aert de Gelder, 1645-1727.

Less important names: Jan van Glabbeck, Jacobus Levecq, Heyman
Dullaert, Johan Hendricksen, Adriaen Verdael, Cornelis Drost.


VI. FOREIGN CONTEMPORARY PAINTERS

Flemish:--

Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640.

Anthony Van Dyck, 1599-1641.

Jacob Jordaens, 1594-1678.

Franz Snyders, 1574-1657.

Gaspard de Craeyer, 1582-1669.

David Teniers, 1610-1690.

Spanish:--

Velasquez, 1599-1660.

Pacheco, 1571-1654.

Cano, 1601-1676.

Herrera, 1576-1656.

Zurbaran, 1598-1662.

Murillo, 1618-1682.

French:--

Simon Vouet, 1582-1641.

Charles Le Brun, 1619-1690.

Eustache Le Sueur, 1617-1655.

Italian:--

Carlo Dolci, 1616-1686.

Guido Reni, 1575-1642.

Domenichino, 1581-1641.

Francesco Albani, 1578-1660.

Guercino, 1591-1666.

Sassoferrato, 1605-1685.



I

JACOB WRESTLING WITH THE ANGEL


The history of the Old Testament patriarch Jacob reads like a romance.
He was the younger of the two sons of Isaac, and was at a great
disadvantage on this account. Among his people the eldest son always
became the family heir and also received the choicest blessing from
the father, a privilege coveted as much as wealth. In this case
therefore the privileged son was Jacob's brother Esau. Jacob resented
keenly the inequality of his lot; and his mother sympathized with him,
as he was her favorite. A feeling of enmity grew up between the
brothers, and in the end Jacob did Esau a great wrong.

One day Esau came in from hunting, nearly starved, and finding his
younger brother cooking some lentils, begged a portion of it for
himself. Jacob seized the chance to make a sharp bargain. He offered
his brother the food--which is called in the quaint Bible language a
"mess of pottage"--making him promise in return that he would let
their father give his blessing to the younger instead of the older
son. Esau was a careless fellow, too hungry to think what he was
saying, and so readily yielded.

But though Esau might sell his birthright in this fashion, the father
would not have been willing to give the blessing to the younger son,
had it not been for a trick planned by the mother. The old man was
nearly blind, and knew his sons apart by the touch of their skin, as
Esau had a rough, hairy skin and Jacob a smooth one. The mother put
skins of kids upon Jacob's hands and neck and bade him go to his
father pretending to be Esau, and seek his blessing. The trick was
successful, and when a little later Esau himself came to his father on
the same errand, he found that he had been superseded. Naturally he
was very angry, and vowed vengeance on his brother. Jacob, fearing for
his life, fled into a place called Padanaram.

In this place he became a prosperous cattle farmer and grew very rich.
He married there also and had a large family of children. After
fourteen years he bethought himself of his brother Esau and the great
wrong he had done him. He resolved to remove his family to his old
home, and to be reconciled with his brother. Hardly daring to expect
to be favorably received, he sent in advance a large number of cattle
in three droves as a gift to Esau. Then he awaited over night some
news or message from his brother. In the night a strange adventure
befell him. This is the way the story is told in the book of
Genesis.[2]

[Footnote 2: Genesis, chapter xxxii. verses 24-31.]

[Illustration: JACOB WRESTLING WITH THE ANGEL
_Berlin Gallery_]

"There wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when
he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of
his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he
wrestled with him. And he said, 'Let me go, for the day breaketh.' And
he said, 'I will not let thee go, except thou bless me,' And he said
unto him, 'What is thy name?' And he said, 'Jacob,' And he said, 'Thy
name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast
thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.'... And he
blessed him there.

"And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God
face to face, and my life is preserved. And as he passed over Penuel,
the sun rose upon him and he halted upon his thigh;" that is, he
walked halt, or lame.

The crisis in Jacob's life was passed, for hardly had he set forth on
this morning when he saw his brother whom he had wronged advancing
with four hundred men to meet him. "And Esau ran to meet him, and
embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him: and they wept."

So were the brothers reconciled.

The picture represents Jacob wrestling with his mysterious adversary.
We have seen from his history how determined he was to have his own
way, and how he wrested worldly prosperity even from misfortunes. Now
he is equally determined in this higher and more spiritual conflict.
It is a very real struggle, and Jacob has prevailed only by putting
forth his utmost energy. It is the moment when the grand angel,
pressing one knee into the hollow of Jacob's left thigh and laying
his hand on his right side, looks into his face and grants the
blessing demanded as a condition for release. Strong and tender is his
gaze, and the gift he bestows is a new name, in token of the new
character of brotherly love of which this victory is the beginning.

The story of St. Michael and the Dragon, which Raphael has painted,
stands for the everlasting conflict between good and evil in the
world. There is a like meaning in the story of Jacob's wrestling with
the angel. The struggle is in the human heart between selfish impulses
and higher ideals. The day when one can hold on to the good angel long
enough to win a blessing, is the day which begins a new chapter in a
man's life.



II

ISRAEL BLESSING THE SONS OF JOSEPH


When Jacob wrestled with the angel he received a new name, Israel, or
a prince, a champion of God.

Israel became the founder of the great Israelite nation, and from his
twelve sons grew up the twelve tribes of Israel, among whom was
distributed the country now called Palestine. Among these sons the
father's favorite was Joseph, who was next to the youngest. This
favoritism aroused the anger and jealousy of the older brothers, and
they plotted to get rid of him. One day when they were all out with
some flocks in a field quite distant from their home, they thought
they were rid forever of the hated Joseph by selling him to a company
of men who were journeying to Egypt. Then they dipped the lad's coat
in goat's blood and carried it to Israel, who, supposing his son to
have been devoured by a wild beast, mourned him as dead.

When Joseph had grown to manhood in Egypt, a singular chain of
circumstances brought the brothers together again. There was a sore
famine, and Egypt was the headquarters for the sale of corn. Joseph
had shown himself so able and trustworthy that he was given charge of
selling and distributing the stores of food. So when Israel's older
sons came from their home to Egypt to buy corn they had to apply to
Joseph, whom they little suspected of being the brother they had so
cruelly wronged. There is a pretty story, too long to repeat here, of
how Joseph disclosed himself to his astonished brethren, and forgave
them their cruelty, how he sent for his father to come to Egypt to
live near him, how there was a joyful reunion, and how "they all lived
happily ever after."

When the time drew near for Israel to die, he desired to bestow his
last blessing on his sons. And first of all his beloved son Joseph
brought him his own two boys, Ephraim and Manasseh.

Now according to the traditions of the patriarchs, it was the eldest
son who should receive the choicest blessing from his father. Israel,
however, had found among his own sons that it was a younger one,
Joseph, who had proved himself the most worthy of love. This may have
shaken his faith in the wisdom of the old custom. Perhaps, too, he
remembered how his own boyhood had been made unhappy because he was
the younger son, and how he had on that account been tempted to
deceit.

Whatever the reason, he surprised Joseph at the last moment by showing
a preference for the younger of the two grandsons, Ephraim, expressing
this preference by laying the right hand, instead of the left, on his
head. The blessing was spoken in these solemn words: "God, before whom
my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my
life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil,
bless the lads."

[Illustration: ISRAEL BLESSING THE SONS OF JOSEPH
_Cassel Gallery_]

The narrative relates[3] that "When Joseph saw that his father laid
his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; and he
held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto
Manasseh's head. And Joseph said unto his father, 'Not so, my father:
for this is the first-born; put thy right hand upon his head.' And his
father refused, and said, 'I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall
become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger
brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a
multitude of nations.' And he blessed them that day, saying, 'In thee
shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim, and as
Manasseh;' and he set Ephraim before Manasseh."

[Footnote 3: Genesis, chapter xlviii. verses 17-20.]

As we compare the picture with the story, it is easy to identify the
figures. We are naturally interested in Joseph as the hero of so many
romantic adventures. As a high Egyptian official, he makes a dignified
appearance and wears a rich turban. His face is gentle and amiable, as
we should expect of a loving son and forgiving brother.

In the old man we see the same Jacob who wrestled by night with the
Angel and was redeemed from his life of selfishness. The same strong
face is here, softened by sorrow and made tender by love. The years
have cut deep lines of character in the forehead, and the flowing
beard has become snowy white.

The dying patriarch has "strengthened himself," to sit up on the bed
for his last duty, and his son Joseph supports him. The children kneel
together by the bedside, the little Ephraim bending his fair head
humbly to receive his grandfather's right hand, Manasseh looking up
alertly, almost resentfully, as he sees that hand passing over his own
head to his brother's. Joseph's wife Asenath, the children's mother,
stands beyond, looking on musingly. We see that it is a moment of very
solemn interest to all concerned. Though the patriarch's eyes are dim
and his hand trembles, his old determined spirit makes itself
manifest. Joseph is in perplexity between his filial respect and his
solicitude for his first-born. He puts his fingers gently under his
father's wrist, trying to lift the hand to the other head. The mother
seems to smile as if well content. Perhaps she shares the
grandfather's preference for little Ephraim.

The picture is a study in the three ages of man, childhood, manhood,
and old age, brought together by the most tender and sacred ties of
human life, in the circle of the family.



III

THE ANGEL RAPHAEL LEAVING THE FAMILY OF TOBIT


The story of Tobit is found in what is called the Apocrypha, that is,
a collection of books written very much in the manner of the Bible,
and formerly bound in Bibles between the Old and the New Testament.

The story goes that when Enemessar, King of Assyria, conquered the
people of Israel, he led away many of them captive into Assyria, among
them the family of Tobit, his wife Anna, and their son Tobias. They
settled in Nineveh, and Tobit, being an honest man, was made purveyor
to the king. That is, it was his business to provide food for the
king's household.

In this office he was able to lay up a good deal of money, which he
placed for safe keeping in the hands of Gabael, an Israelite who lived
at Rages in Media. Tobit was a generous man, and he did many kind
deeds for his less fortunate fellow exiles; he delighted in feeding
the hungry and clothing the naked.

When Sennacherib was king of Assyria, many Jews were slain and left
lying in the street, and Tobit, finding their neglected bodies, buried
them secretly. One night, after some such deed of mercy, a sad
affliction befell him. White films came over his eyes, causing total
blindness. In his distress he prayed that he might die, and began to
make preparations for death. He called his son Tobias to him and gave
him much good advice as to his manner of life, and then desired him to
go to Rages to obtain the money left there with Gabael. But Tobias
must first seek a guide for the journey. "Therefore," says the story,
"when he went to seek a man, he found Raphael that was an angel. But
he knew not; and he said unto him, 'Canst thou go with me to Rages?
and knowest thou those places well?' To whom the angel said, 'I will
go with thee, and I know the way well: for I have lodged with our
brother Gabael,'" The angel gave himself the name Azarias. "So they
went forth both, and the young man's dog with them."

"As they went on their journey, they came in the evening to the river
Tigris, and they lodged there. And when the young man went down to
wash himself, a fish leaped out of the river, and would have devoured
him. Then the angel said unto him, 'Take the fish,' And the young man
laid hold of the fish, and drew it to land. To whom the angel said,
'Open the fish and take the gall, and put it up safely.' So the young
man did as the angel commanded him, and when they had roasted the
fish, they did eat it: then they both went on their way, till they
drew near to Ecbatane. Then the young man said to the angel, 'Brother
Azarias, to what use is the gall of the fish?' And he said unto him,
'It is good to anoint a man that hath whiteness in his eyes, and he
shall be healed.'"

[Illustration: THE ANGEL RAPHAEL LEAVING THE FAMILY OF TOBIT
_The Louvre, Paris_]

After this curious incident there were no further adventures till they
came to Ecbatane. Here they lodged with Raguel, a kinsman of Tobit,
and when Tobias saw Sara, the daughter, he loved her and determined to
make her his wife. He therefore tarried fourteen days at Ecbatane,
sending Azarias on to Rages for the money. This delay lengthened the
time allotted for the journey, but at last the company drew near to
Nineveh,--Azarias or Raphael, and Tobias, with the bride, the
treasure, and the precious fishgall. Raphael then gave Tobias
directions to use the gall for his father's eyes. Their arrival was
the cause of great excitement. "Anna ran forth, and fell upon the neck
of her son. Tobit also went forth toward the door, and stumbled: but
his son ran unto him, and took hold of his father: and he strake of
the gall on his father's eyes, saying, 'Be of good hope, my father.'
And when his eyes began to smart, he rubbed them; and the whiteness
pilled away from the corners of his eyes: and when he saw his son, he
fell upon his neck."

Now Tobit and Tobias were full of gratitude to Azarias for all that he
had done for them, and, consulting together as to how they could
reward him, decided to give him half the treasure. So the old man
called the angel, and said, "Take half of all that ye have brought,
and go away in safety." Then Raphael took them both apart, and said
unto them, "Bless God, praise him, and magnify him, and praise him
for the things which he hath done unto you in the sight of all that
live."

With this solemn introduction the angel goes on to tell Tobit that he
had been with him when he had buried his dead countrymen, and that his
good deeds were not hid from him, and that his prayers were
remembered. He concludes by showing who he really is.

"I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers
of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy
One."

"Then they were both troubled, and fell upon their faces: for they
feared God. But he said unto them, 'Fear not, for it shall go well
with you; praise God therefore. For not of any favor of mine, but by
the will of our God I came; wherefore praise him for ever. All these
days I did appear unto you; but I did neither eat nor drink, but ye
did see a vision. Now therefore give God thanks: for I go up to him
that sent me.'" "And when they arose, they saw him no more."

The picture shows us the moment when the angel suddenly rises from the
midst of the little company and strikes out on his flight through the
air like a strong swimmer. Tobit and Tobias fall on their knees
without, while Anna and the bride Sara stand in the open door with the
frightened little dog cowering beside them. The older people are
overcome with wonder and awe, but Tobias and Sara, more bold, follow
the radiant vision with rapturous gaze.



IV

THE RAT KILLER


The pictures we have examined thus far in this collection have been
reproductions from Rembrandt's paintings. You will see at once that
the picture of the Rat Killer is of another kind. The figures and
objects are indicated by lines instead of by masses of color. You
would call it a drawing, and it is in fact a drawing of one kind, but
properly speaking, an etching. An etching is a drawing made on copper
by means of a needle. The etcher first covers the surface of the metal
with a layer of some waxy substance and draws his picture through this
coating, or "etching ground," as it is called. Next he immerses the
copper plate in an acid bath which "bites," or grooves, the metal
along the lines he has drawn without affecting the parts protected by
the etching ground.

The plate thus has a picture cut into its surface, and impressions of
this picture may be taken by filling the lines with ink and pressing
wet paper to the surface of the plate. You will notice that the
difference between the work of an engraver and that of an etcher is
that the former cuts the lines in his plate with engraving tools,
while the latter only draws his picture on the plate and the acid cuts
the lines. The word etching is derived from the Dutch _etzen_, and
the most famous etchers in the world have been among Dutch and German
artists.

Rembrandt is easily first of these, and we should have but a limited
idea of his work if we did not examine some of his pictures of this
kind. Impressions made directly from the original plates, over two
centuries ago, are, of course, very rare and valuable, and are
carefully preserved in the great libraries and museums of the world.
There is a collection in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where this
etching of the Rat Killer may be seen.

The Rat Killer is one of many subjects from the scenes of common life
which surrounded the artist. In smaller towns and villages, then as
well as now, there were no large shops where goods were to be bought.
Instead, all sorts of peddlers and traveling mechanics went from house
to house--the knife grinder, the ragman, the fiddler, and many others.
This picture of the Rat Killer suggests a very odd occupation. The
pest of rats is, of course, much greater in old than in new countries.
In Europe, and perhaps particularly in the northern countries of
Holland and Germany, the old towns and villages have long been
infested with these troublesome creatures.

[Illustration: THE RAT KILLER
_Museum of Fine Arts, Boston_]

There are some curious legends about them. One relates how a certain
Bishop Hatto, as a judgment for his sins, was attacked by an army of
rats which swam across the Rhine and invaded him in his island tower,
where they made short work of their victim.[4] Another tells how a
town called Hamelin was overrun with rats until a magic piper appeared
who so charmed them with his enchanted music that they gathered about
him and followed his leading till they came to the river and were
drowned.[5]

[Footnote 4: See Southey's poem, Bishop Hatto.]

[Footnote 5: See Browning's poem, The Pied Piper of Hamelin.]

The old Rat Killer in the picture looks suspiciously like a magician.
It seems as if he must have bewitched the rats which crawl friskily
about him, one perching on his shoulders. He reminds one of some ogre
out of a fairy tale, with his strange tall cap, his kilted coat, and
baggy trousers, the money pouch at his belt, the fur mantle flung over
one shoulder, and the fierce-looking sword dangling at his side. But
there is no magic in his way of killing rats. He has some rat poison
to sell which his apprentice, a miserable little creature, carries in
a large box.

The picture gives us an idea of an old Dutch village street. The
cottages are built very low, with steep overhanging roofs. The walls
are of thick masonry, for these were days when in small villages and
outlying districts "every man's house was his castle," that is, every
man's house was intended, first of all, as a place of defense against
outlawry.

The entrance doors were made in two sections, an upper and a lower
part, or wing, each swinging on its own hinges. Whenever a knock came,
the householder could open the upper wing and address the caller as
through a window, first learning who he was and what his errand,
before opening the lower part to admit him. Thus an unwelcome intruder
could not press his way into the house by the door's being opened at
his knock, and the family need not be taken unawares. In many of our
modern houses we see doors made after the same plan, and known as
"Dutch doors."

The cautious old man in the picture has no intention of being imposed
upon by wandering fakirs. He has opened only the upper door and leans
on the lower wing, as on a gate, while he listens to the Rat Killer's
story. The latter must have a marvellous tale to tell of the effects
of the poison, from the collection of dead rats which he carries as
trophies in the basket fastened to the long pole in his hand. But the
householder impatiently pushes his hand back, and turns away as if
with disgust. The apprentice, grotesque little rat himself, looks up
rather awestruck at this grand, turbaned figure above him.



V

THE PHILOSOPHER IN MEDITATION


Ever since the beginning of human history there have been people who
puzzled their brains about the reasons of things. Why things are as
they are, whence we came, and whither we are going are some of the
perplexing questions they have tried to answer. Some men have given
all their lives to the study of these problems as a single occupation
or profession. Among the ancient Greeks, who were a very intellectual
nation, such men were quite numerous and were held in great esteem as
teachers. They were called philosophers, that is, lovers of wisdom,
and this word has been passed down to our own times in various modern
languages.

In the passing of the centuries men found more and more subjects to
think about. Some studied the movements of the stars and tried to
discover if they had any influence in human affairs. These men were
called astrologers, and they drew plans, known as horoscopes, mapping
out the future destiny of persons as revealed by the position of the
constellations. There were other men who examined the various
substances of which the earth is composed, putting them together to
make new things. These were alchemists, and their great ambition was
to find some preparation which would change baser metals into gold.
This hoped-for preparation was spoken of as the "philosopher's stone."

Now modern learning has changed these vague experiments into exact
science; astronomy has replaced astrology, and chemistry has taken the
place of alchemy. Nevertheless these changes were brought about only
very gradually, and in the 17th century, when Rembrandt lived and
painted this picture, a great stir was made by the new ideas of
astronomy taught by Galileo in Italy, and the new discoveries in
chemistry made by Van Helmont in Belgium. Many philosophers still held
to the old beliefs of astrology and alchemy.

It is not likely that Rembrandt had any one philosopher in mind as the
subject of his picture. That his philosopher is something of a
scholar, we judge from the table at which he sits, littered with
writing materials. Yet he seems to care less for reading than for
thinking, as he sits with hands clasped in his lap and his head sunk
upon his breast. He wears a loose, flowing garment like a
dressing-gown, and his bald head is protected by a small skull cap.
His is an ideal place for a philosopher's musings. The walls are so
thick that they shut out all the confusing noise of the world. A
single window lets in light enough to read by through its many tiny
panes. It is a bare little room, to be sure, with its ungarnished
walls and stone-paved floor, but if a philosopher has the ordinary
needs of life supplied he wants no luxuries. He asks for nothing
more than quiet and uninterrupted leisure in which to pursue his
meditations.

[Illustration: THE PHILOSOPHER IN MEDITATION
_The Louvre, Paris_]

Our philosopher is well taken care of; for while his thoughts are on
higher things and eternal truths, an old woman is busy at the fire in
the corner. Evidently she looks after the material and temporal things
of life. She kneels on the hearth and hangs a kettle over the cheerful
blaze. The firelight glows on her face and gleams here and there on
the brasses hanging in the chimney-piece above. Here is promise of
something good to come, and when the philosopher is roused from his
musings there will be a hot supper ready for him.

There are two mysteries in the room which arouse our curiosity. In the
wall behind the philosopher's chair is a low, arched door heavily
built with large hinges. Does this lead to some subterranean cavern,
and what secret does it contain? Is it a laboratory where, with
alembic and crucible, the philosopher searches the secrets of alchemy
and tries to find the "philosopher's stone?" Is some hid treasure
stored up there, as precious and as hard to reach as the hidden truths
the philosopher tries to discover?

At the right side of the room a broad, winding staircase rises in
large spirals and disappears in the gloom above. We follow it with
wondering eyes which try to pierce the darkness and see whither it
leads. Perhaps there is an upper chamber with windows open to the sky
whence the philosopher studies the stars. This place with its winding
staircase would be just such an observatory as an astrologer would
like. Indeed it suggests at once the tower on the hillside near
Florence where Galileo passed his declining years.

Our philosopher, too, is an old man; his hair has been whitened by
many winters, his face traced over with many lines of thought. Even if
his problems have not all been solved he has found rich satisfaction
in his thinking; the end of his meditations is peace. The day is
drawing to a close. The waning light falls through the window and
illumines the philosopher's venerable face. It throws the upper spiral
of the stairway into bold relief, and brings out all the beautiful
curves in its structure. The bare little room is transfigured. This is
indeed a fit dwelling-place for a philosopher whose thoughts,
penetrating dark mysteries, are at last lighted by some gleams of the
ideal.



VI

THE GOOD SAMARITAN


The story of the Good Samaritan was related by Jesus to a certain
lawyer as a parable, that is, a story to teach a moral lesson. The
object was to show what was true neighborly conduct; and this was the
story:--[6]

"A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among
thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and
departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a
certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the
other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and
looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

"But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when
he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up
his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and
brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he
departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said
unto him, 'Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I
come again I will repay thee.'"

[Footnote 6: St. Luke, chapter x. verses 30-37.]

The point of the story is very plain, and when Jesus asked the lawyer
which one of the three passers-by was a neighbor to the wounded man,
he was forced to reply, "He that shewed mercy." Then said Jesus
simply, "Go, and do thou likewise."

Though the scene of the story is laid in Palestine, it is the sort of
incident which one can imagine taking place in any country or period
of time. So it seems perfectly proper that Rembrandt, in representing
the subject, should show us an old Dutch scene. The etching
illustrates that moment when the Good Samaritan arrives at the inn,
followed by the wounded traveler mounted on his horse.

The building is a quaint piece of architecture with arched doors and
windows. That it was built with an eye to possible attacks from
thieves and outlaws, we may see from the small windows and thick walls
of masonry, which make it look like a miniature fortress. This is a
lonely spot, and inns are few and far between. The plaster is cracking
and crumbling from the surface, and the whole appearance of the place
does not betoken great thrift on the part of the owners. On the
present occasion, during the working hours of the day, doors and
windows are open after the hospitable manner of an inn.

The host stands in the doorway, greeting the strangers, and the Good
Samaritan is explaining the situation to him. In the mean time the inn
servants have come forward: the hostler's boy holds the horse by the
bridle, while a man lifts off the wounded traveler.

[Illustration: THE GOOD SAMARITAN
_Museum of Fine Arts, Boston_]

About the dooryard are the usual signs of life. In the rear a woman
draws water from a well, lowering the bucket from the end of a long
well-sweep, heedless of the stir about the door. Fowl scratch about in
search of food, and there is a dog at one side. Some one within looks
with idle curiosity from the window into the yard. It is little
touches like these which give the scene such vividness and reality.

There is also a remarkable expressiveness in the figures which tells
the story at a glance. You can see just what the Good Samaritan is
saying, as he gestures with his left hand, and you can guess the
inn-keeper's reply. Already he has put the proffered money into the
wallet he carries at his belt, and listens attentively to the orders
given him. He may privately wonder at his guest's singular kindness to
a stranger, but with him business is business, and his place is to
carry out his guest's wishes.

You see how the hostler's boy magnifies his office, swaggering with
legs wide apart. Even the feather in his cap bristles with importance.
This bit of comedy contrasts with the almost tragic expression of the
wounded man. The stolid fellow who lifts him seems to hurt him very
much, and he clasps his hands in an agony of pain. He seems to be
telling the gentleman at the window of his recent misfortune.

To study the picture more critically, it will be interesting to notice
how the important figures are massed together in the centre, and how
the composition is built into a pyramid. Draw a line from the
inn-keeper's head down the stairway at the left, and follow the
outline of the Good Samaritan's right shoulder along the body of the
wounded traveler, and you have the figure. This pyramidal form is
emphasized again by the wainscot of the stairway at the left, and the
well-sweep at the right.

To appreciate fully the character of the etching, one must examine
attentively all the different kinds of lines which produce the varying
effects of light and shadow. Below the picture Rembrandt wrote his
name and the date 1633, with two Latin words meaning that he designed
and etched the plate himself. This would seem to show that he was well
pleased with his work, and it is interesting to learn that the great
German poet, Goethe, admired the composition extravagantly.



VII

THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE


The story which the picture of the Presentation illustrates is a story
of the infancy of Jesus Christ. According to the custom of the Jews at
that time, every male child was "presented," or dedicated, to the Lord
when about a month old. Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa, a small
town about four miles from the city of Jerusalem, the Jewish capital,
where the temple was. When he was about a month old, his mother Mary
and her husband Joseph, who were devout Jews, brought him to the great
city for the ceremony of the presentation in the temple. Now the
temple was a great place of worship where many religious ceremonies
were taking place all the time.

Ordinarily, a party coming up from the country for some religious
observance would not attract any special attention among the
worshippers. But on the day when the infant Jesus was presented in the
temple, a very strange thing occurred. The evangelist St. Luke[7]
relates the circumstances.

[Footnote 7: St. Luke, chapter ii. verses 25-35.]

"And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and
the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of
Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him
by the Holy Ghost that he should not see death, before he had seen the
Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the
parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of
the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy
word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared
before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles and the
glory of thy people Israel.

"And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken
of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold
this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and
for a sign which shall be spoken against; that the thought of many
hearts may be revealed."

[Illustration: THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE
_The Hague Gallery_]

In the picture we find ourselves, as it were, among the worshippers in
the temple, looking at the group on the pavement in front of us--Mary
and Joseph and Simeon, kneeling before a priest, with two or three
onlookers. It is a Gothic cathedral, in whose dim recesses many people
move hither and thither. At the right is a long flight of steps
leading to a throne, which is overshadowed by a huge canopy. At the
top of the steps we see the high priest seated with hands
outstretched, receiving the people who throng up the stairway. It was
towards this stairway that Mary and Joseph were making their way,
when the aged Simeon first saw them, and recognized in the child
they carried the one he had long expected. Taking the babe from his
mother's arms, he kneels on the marble-tiled pavement and raises his
face to heaven in thanksgiving. His embroidered cymar, or robe, falls
about him in rich folds as he clasps his arms about the tiny swaddled
figure.

Mary has dropped on her knees beside him, listening to his words with
happy wonder. Joseph, just beyond, looks on with an expression of
inquiry. He carries two turtle doves as the thank offering required of
the mother by the religious law. His unkempt appearance and bare feet
contrast with the neat dress of Mary. The tall priest standing before
them extends his hands towards the group in a gesture of benediction.
A broad ray of light gleams on his strange headdress, lights up his
outstretched hand, and falls with dazzling brilliancy upon the soft
round face of the babe, the smiling mother, and the venerable Simeon
with flowing white hair and beard.

There are but few people to pay any heed to the strange incident. Two
or three of those who climb the stairway turn about and stare
curiously at the group below. There are three others still more
interested. One man behind puts his turbaned head over Simeon's
shoulders, peering inquisitively at the child, as if trying to see
what the old man finds so remarkable in him. Beyond, two old beggars
approach with a sort of good-natured interest. They are quaintly
dressed, one of them wearing a very tall cap. Such humble folk as
these alone seem to have time to notice others' affairs.

It must not be supposed that this scene very closely represents the
actual event it illustrates. The painter Rembrandt knew nothing about
the architecture of the old Jewish temple destroyed many centuries
before. A Gothic cathedral was the finest house of worship known to
him, so he thought out the scene as it would look in such
surroundings. The people coming and going were such as he saw about
him daily; the beggars looking at the Christ-child were the beggars of
Amsterdam, and the men seated in the wooden settle at the right were
like the respectable Dutch burghers of his acquaintance. It was like
translating the story from Aramaic to Dutch, but in the process
nothing is lost of its original touching beauty.

In studying the picture, you must notice how carefully all the figures
are painted, even the very small ones in the darkest parts of the
composition. The beautiful contrast, between the light on the central
group and the soft dimness of the remoter parts of the cathedral,
illustrates a style of work for which Rembrandt was very famous, and
which we shall often see in his pictures.



VIII

CHRIST PREACHING


We read in the evangelists' record of the life of Jesus that he went
about the country preaching the gospel (or the good news) of the
kingdom of Heaven. Sometimes he preached in the synagogue on the
Sabbath day; but more often he talked to the people in the open air,
sometimes on the mountain-side, sometimes on the shore of the lake
Gennesaret, or again in the streets of their towns.

The scribes and Pharisees were jealous of his popularity, and angry
because he exposed their hypocrisy. The proud and rich found many of
his sayings too hard to accept. So it was the poor and unhappy who
were most eager to hear him, and they often formed a large part of his
audience. Jesus himself rejoiced in this class of followers, and when
John the Baptist's messengers came to him to inquire into his mission,
he sent back the message, "The poor have the gospel preached to them."

In this picture of Christ Preaching, we see that his hearers are of
just the kind that the preacher's message is intended for,--the weary
and heavy-laden whom he called to himself. There are a few dignitaries
in the gathering, it is true, standing pompously by in the hope of
finding something to criticise. But Jesus pays no attention to them
as he looks down into the faces of the listeners who most need his
words. His pulpit is a square coping-stone in a courtyard, and the
people gather about him in a circle in the positions most convenient
to them.

There is no formality here, no ceremony; each one may come and go as
he pleases. Here is a mother sitting on the ground directly in front
of the speaker, holding a babe in her arms, while a little fellow
sprawls out on the ground beside her, drawing on the sand with his
finger. Though we cannot see her face, we know that she is an absorbed
listener, and Jesus seems to speak directly to her.

A pathetic-looking man beyond her is trying to take in the message in
a wondering way, and a long-bearded man behind him is so aroused that
he leans eagerly forward to catch every word. There are others, as is
always the case, who listen very stolidly as if quite indifferent.

Again there are two who ponder the subject thoughtfully. One of these
is in the rear,--a young man, perhaps one of Jesus' disciples; the
other sits in front, crossing his legs, and supporting his chin with
his hand. In the group at the right of Jesus we can easily pick out
the scoffers and critics, listening intently, some of them more
interested, perhaps, than they had expected to be.

[Illustration: CHRIST PREACHING
_Museum of Fine Arts, Boston_]

As we look at Jesus himself, so gentle and tender, raising both hands
as if to bless the company, we feel sure that he is speaking some
message of comfort. One day when he was reading the Scriptures in
the synagogue at Capernaum, he selected a passage which described his
own work, and which perfectly applies to this picture. We can imagine
that he is saying: "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the
Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath
sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the
captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to
proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of
our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in
Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."

It is a noticeable fact that the figures in this picture of Christ
preaching are Dutch types. If you think that this is a strange way to
illustrate scenes which took place in Palestine many centuries ago,
you must remember that the picture was drawn by a Dutchman who knew
nothing of Palestine, and indeed little of any country outside his own
Holland. He wished to make the life of Christ seem real and vivid to
his own countrymen; and the only way he could do this was to represent
the scenes in the surroundings most familiar to himself and to them.
The artist was simply trying to imagine what Jesus would do if he had
come to Amsterdam in the seventeenth century, instead of to Jerusalem
in the first century; somewhat as certain modern writers have tried to
think what would take place "If Jesus came to Chicago," or "If Jesus
came to Boston," in the nineteenth century. The sweet gentleness in
the face of Christ and the eager attention of the people show how well
Rembrandt understood the real meaning of the New Testament.

This picture is worthy of very special study because it is reckoned by
critics one of the best of Rembrandt's etchings. One enthusiastic
writer[8] says that "the full maturity of his genius is expressed in
every feature." One must know a great deal about the technical
processes of etching to appreciate fully all these excellencies; but
even an inexperienced eye can see how few and simple are the lines
which produce such striking effects of light and shadow: a scratch or
two here, a few parallel lines drawn diagonally there; some coarse
cross-hatching in one place, closer hatching in another; now and then
a spot of the black ink itself,--and the whole scene is made alive,
with Jesus standing in the midst, the light gleaming full upon his
figure.

[Footnote 8: Michel.]



IX

CHRIST AT EMMAUS


The picture of Christ at Emmaus illustrates an event in the narrative
of Christ's life which took place on the evening of the first Easter
Sunday. It was now three days since the Crucifixion of Christ just
outside Jerusalem, and the terrible scene was still very fresh in the
minds of his disciples. It happened that late in the day two of them
were going to a village called Emmaus, not very far from Jerusalem.

They made the journey on foot, and as they walked along the way, "they
talked together," says the evangelist[9] who tells the story, "of all
those things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they
communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with
them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he
said unto them, 'What manner of communications are these that ye have
one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?' And the one of them, whose
name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, 'Art thou only a stranger
in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass
there in these days?' And he said unto them, 'What things?' And they
said unto him, 'Concerning Jesus of Nazareth.'" Then followed a
conversation in which they told the stranger something of Jesus, and
he in turn explained to them many things about the life and character
of Jesus which they had never understood.

[Footnote 9: St. Luke, chapter xxiv. verses 13-32.]

"And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made
as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him,
saying, 'Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far
spent.' And he went in to tarry with them.

"And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and
blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened
and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said
one to another, 'Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked
with us by the way?'"

The picture suggests vividly to us that wonderful moment at Emmaus
when the eyes of the disciples were opened, and they recognized their
guest as Jesus, whom they had so recently seen crucified. The table is
laid in a great bare room with the commonest furnishings, and the
disciples appear to be laboring men, accustomed to "plain living and
high thinking." They are coarsely dressed, and their feet are bare, as
are also the feet of Jesus. One seems to have grasped the situation
more quickly than the other, for he folds his hands together,
reverently gazing directly into the face of Jesus. His companion,
an older man, at the other end of the table, looks up astonished and
mystified. The boy who is bringing food to the table is busy with his
task, and does not notice any change in Jesus.

[Illustration: CHRIST AT EMMAUS
_The Louvre, Paris_]

In the midst is Christ, "pale, emaciated, sitting facing us, breaking
the bread as on the evening of the Last Supper, in his pilgrim robe,
with his blackened lips, on which the torture has left its traces, his
great brown eyes soft, widely opened, and raised towards heaven, with
his cold nimbus, a sort of phosphorescence around him which envelops
him in an indefinable glory, and that inexplicable look of a breathing
human being who certainly has passed through death."

This description is by a celebrated French critic,[10] himself a
painter, who knows whereof he speaks. He says that this picture alone
is enough to establish the reputation of a man.

[Footnote 10: Fromentin, in _Old Masters of Belgium and Holland._]

There is one artistic quality in the picture to which we must pay
careful attention, as it is particularly characteristic of Rembrandt.
This is the way in which the light and shadow are arranged, or what a
critic would call the chiaroscuro of the picture. The heart of the
composition glows with a golden light which comes from some unseen
source. It falls on the white tablecloth with a dazzling brilliancy as
if from some bright lamp. It gleams on the faces of the company,
bringing out their expressions clearly. The arched recess behind the
table is thrown into heavy shadow, against which the centrally lighted
group is sharply contrasted.

This singular manner of bringing light and darkness into striking
opposition makes the objects in a picture stand out very vividly. Some
one has defined chiaroscuro as the "art of rendering the atmosphere
visible and of painting an object enveloped in air." The art was
carried to perfection by Rembrandt. You will notice it more or less in
every picture of this collection, but nowhere is it more appropriate
than here, where the appearance of Christ, as the source of light,
emphasizes the mystery of the event and makes something sacred of this
common scene.

As we compare this picture with the etching of Christ Preaching, we
get a better idea of Rembrandt's aim in representing Christ. He did
not try to make his face beautiful with regular classical features,
after the manner of the old Italian painters. He did not even think it
necessary to make his figure grand and imposing. Something still
better Rembrandt sought to put into his picture, and this was a gentle
expression of love.



X

PORTRAIT OF SASKIA


We should have but a very imperfect idea of Rembrandt's work if we did
not learn something about the portraits he painted. It was for these
that he was most esteemed in his own day, being the fashionable
portrait painter of Amsterdam at a time when every person of means
wished to have his likeness painted. A collection of his works of this
kind would almost bring back again the citizens of Amsterdam in the
seventeenth century, so life-like are these wonderful canvases. Among
them we should find the various members of his family, his father and
mother, his sister, his servant, his son, and most interesting of all,
his beloved wife, Saskia.

Saskia was born in Friesland, one of nine children of a wealthy
patrician family. Her father, Rombertus van Uylenborch, was a
distinguished lawyer, who had had several important political missions
intrusted to him. At one time he was sent as a messenger to William of
Orange, and was sitting at table with that prince just before his
assassination. He died in 1624, leaving Saskia an orphan, as she had
lost her mother five years before. The little girl of twelve now began
to live in turn with her married sisters. At the age of twenty she
came to Amsterdam to live for a while with her cousin, the wife of a
minister, Jan Cornelis Sylvius, whose face we know from one of
Rembrandt's etchings. Saskia had also another cousin living in
Amsterdam, Hendrick van Uylenborch, a man of artistic tastes, who had
not succeeded as a painter, and had become a dealer in bric-à-brac and
engravings. He was an old friend of Rembrandt; and when the young
painter came to seek his fortune in the great city in 1631, he had
made his home for a while with the art dealer.

It was doubtless Hendrick who introduced Rembrandt to Saskia. Probably
the beginning of their acquaintance was through Rembrandt's painting
Saskia's portrait in 1632. The relation between them soon grew quite
friendly, for in the same year the young girl sat two or three times
again to the painter. The friendship presently ended in courtship, and
when Rembrandt pressed his suit the marriage seemed a very proper one.
Saskia was of a fine family and had a sufficient dowry.

Rembrandt, though the son of a miller, was already a famous painter,
much sought after for portraits, and with a promising career before
him. The engagement was therefore approved by her guardians, but
marriage being deferred till she came of age, the courtship lasted two
happy years. During this time Rembrandt painted his lady love over and
over again. It was one of his artistic methods to paint the same
person many times. He was not one of the superficial painters who
turn constantly from one model to another in search of new effects. He
liked to make an exhaustive study of a single face in many moods, with
many expressions and varied by different costumes.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF SASKIA
_Cassel Gallery_]

Saskia had small eyes and a round nose, and was not at all beautiful
according to classical standards. Rembrandt, however, cared less for
beauty than for expression, and Saskia's face was very expressive, at
times merry and almost roguish, and again quite serious. She had also
a brilliant complexion and an abundance of silky hair, waving from her
forehead. The painter had collected in his studio many pretty and
fantastic things to use in his pictures,--velvets and gold embroidered
cloaks, Oriental stuffs, laces, necklaces, and jewels. With these he
loved to deck Saskia, heightening her girlish charms with the play of
light upon these adornments.

One of the most famous of the many portraits of Saskia at this time is
the picture we have here. Because it is not signed and dated, after
Rembrandt's usual custom, it is thought that it was intended as a gift
for Saskia herself, and thus it has a romantic interest for us. Also
it is painted with extreme care, as the work of a lover offering the
choicest fruit of his art.

The artist has arranged a picturesque costume for his sitter,--a
broad-brimmed hat of red velvet with a sweeping white feather, an
elaborate dress with embroidered yoke and full sleeves, a rich mantle
draped over one shoulder, necklace, earrings, and bracelets of
pearls. Her expression is more serious here than usual, though very
happy, as if she was thinking of her lover; and in her hand she
carries a sprig of rosemary, which in Holland is the symbol of
betrothal, holding it near her heart.

The marriage finally took place in June, 1634, in the town of Bildt.
The bridal pair then returned to Amsterdam to a happy home life.
Rembrandt had no greater pleasure than in the quiet family circle, and
Saskia had a simple loving nature, entirely devoted to her husband's
happiness. A few years later Rembrandt moved into a fine house in the
Breestraat, which he furnished richly with choice paintings and works
of art.

A succession of portraits shows that the painter continued to paint
his wife with loving pride. He represented her as a Jewish bride, as
Flora, as an Odalisque, a Judith, a Susanna, and a Bathsheba. There is
one painting of the husband and wife together, Saskia perched like a
child on Rembrandt's knee, as he flourishes a wine-glass in the air.
In another picture (an etching) they sit together at a table about the
evening lamp, the wife with her needle-work, the artist with his
engraving. The love between them is the brightest spot in Rembrandt's
history, clouded as it was with many disappointments and troubles. As
a celebrated writer has expressed it, Saskia was "a ray of sunshine in
the perpetual chiaroscuro of his life."



XI

THE SORTIE OF THE CIVIC GUARD, OR THE NIGHT WATCH


The patriotism of the Dutch is seen through the entire history of
"brave little Holland." Early in the sixteenth century every town of
considerable size had a military company composed of the most
prominent citizens. Each company, or guild, had a place of assembly,
or _doelen_, and a drilling-ground. The officers were chosen for a
year, and the highest appointments were those of captain, lieutenant,
and ensign. Upon these civic guards rested the responsibility of
maintaining the order and safety of the town. Sterner duties than
these were theirs when in the late sixteenth century (1573), at the
call of William of Orange, the various guilds formed themselves into
volunteer companies to resist the Spanish. How well they acquitted
themselves is a matter of history, and Spain recognized the republic
in the treaty of 1609. After the war, many of the corporations were
reorganized and continued to be of great importance in the seventeenth
century.

The picture we have here represents the Civic Guard of Amsterdam
during the captaincy of Frans Banning Cocq in 1642. Cocq was a man of
wealth and influence who had purchased the estate of Purmerland in
1618 and had also been granted a patent of nobility. So it was natural
that Lord Purmerland, one of the most distinguished citizens of the
town, should be called to a term of office as captain of the Civic
Guard. His magnificent stature and manly bearing show him well fitted
for the honor.

The picture represents an occasion when the guard issues from the
assembly hall, or doelen, in a sudden call to action. Captain Cocq
leads the way with Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenberg, of Vlaerdingen,
and as he advances gives orders to his fellow officer. The drum beats,
the ensign unfurls the standard, every man carries a weapon of some
sort. One is priming a musket, another loading his gun, another
firing. A mass of lance-bearers press on from the rear. In the
confusion a dog scampers into the midst and barks furiously at the
drum. A little girl slips into the crowd on the other side, oddly out
of place in such company, but quite fearless. It has been suggested
that she may have been the bearer of the tidings which calls the guard
forth. The quaint figure is clad in a long dress of some shimmering
stuff, and she has the air of a small princess. From her belt hangs a
cock, and she turns her face admiringly towards the great captain.

[Illustration: SORTIE OF THE CIVIC GUARD
_Ryks Museum, Amsterdam_]

We do not know of any historical incident which precisely corresponds
to the action in the picture. Indeed, it is not strictly speaking an
historical picture at all, but rather a portrait group of the Civic
Guard, in attitudes appropriate to their character as a military
body. They may be going out for target practice or for a shooting
match such as was held annually as a trial of skill; it may be a
parade, or it may be, as some have fancied, a call to arms against a
sudden attack from the enemy. In any case the noticeable thing is the
readiness with which all respond to the call--the spirit of patriotism
which animates the body. The Dutch are not naturally warlike, but
rather a peace-loving people; lacking the quick impulsiveness of a
more nervous race, they are of a somewhat heavy and deliberate temper;
yet they have the solid worth which can be counted on in an emergency,
and in love of country they are united to a man. Benjamin Franklin
once said of Holland, "In love of liberty, and bravery in the defense
of it, she has been our great example."

The picture cannot be fully understood without some knowledge of its
history. Painted for the hall of the Amsterdam Musketeers, it was to
take its place among others by contemporary painters, as a portrait
group in honor of the officers of the year, and as a lasting memorial
of their services. The other pictures had been stiff groups about a
table, and the novelty of Rembrandt's composition displeased some of
the members of the guild. Each person who figures in the scene had
subscribed a certain sum towards the cost of the picture for his own
portrait, and was anxious to get his money's worth. Consequently,
there were many who did not at all relish their insignificance in the
background, quite overshadowed by the glory of the captain and
lieutenant. They thought they would have shown to much better
advantage arranged in rows.

It was Rembrandt's way when painting a portrait to give life and
reality to the figure, by showing the leading element in the character
or occupation of the person. Thus his shipbuilder is designing a ship,
the writing master, Coppenol, is mending a pen, the architect has his
drawing utensils, and the preacher his Bible. So in the Civic Guard
each man carries a weapon, and the figures are united in spirited
action. All this artistic motive was lost upon those for whom the
picture was painted, because of their petty vanity. So the great
painting, now so highly esteemed, was not a success at the time.

In the following century it was removed to the town hall; and in order
to fit it into a particular place on the wall, a strip was cut off
each side the canvas. It is the loss of these margins which gives the
composition the crowded appearance which so long seemed a strange
fault in a great artist like Rembrandt.

The original colors of the painting grew so dark with the accumulation
of smoke in the hall that the critics supposed the scene occurred at
night, hence the incorrect name of the Night Watch was given to it.
Since the picture was cleaned, in 1889, it is apparent that the
incident occurred in the daytime, and if you look carefully you can
plainly see the shadow of Captain Cocq's hand on the lieutenant's
tunic.



XII

PORTRAIT OF JAN SIX


When the painter Rembrandt came to Amsterdam in 1631, a young man
seeking his fortune in the great city, a lad of twelve years was
living in his father's country seat, near by, who was later to become
one of his warm friends. This was Jan Six, the subject of the portrait
etching reproduced here. There was a great contrast in the
circumstances of life in which the two friends grew up. Rembrandt was
the son of a miller, and had his own way to make in the world. Jan Six
was surrounded from his earliest years with everything which tended to
the gratification of his natural taste for culture. Rembrandt's rare
talent, however, overbalanced any lack of early advantages, and made
him a friend worth having.

Six had come of Huguenot ancestry. His grandfather had fled to Holland
during the Huguenot persecution in France, and had become a resident
in Amsterdam in 1585. Jan's father, another Jan, had married a Dutch
lady of good family, whose maiden name was Anna Wijmer. It was in the
service of this good lady that we first hear of Rembrandt's connection
with the Six family. He was called to paint her portrait in 1641, and
must have then, if not before, made the acquaintance of her young
son, Jan. Jan united to a great love of learning a love of everything
beautiful, and was an ardent collector of objects of art. Paintings of
the old Italian and early Dutch schools, rare prints and curios of
various kinds, were his delight. He found in Rembrandt a man after his
own heart. Already the painter had gone far beyond his means in
filling his own house with costly works of art. So the two men, having
a hobby in common, found a strong bond of union in their congenial
tastes. We may be sure that they were often together, to show their
new purchases and discuss their beauty.

Rembrandt, as an older and more experienced collector, would doubtless
have good advice to offer his younger friend, and, an artist himself,
would know how to judge correctly a work of art. One record of their
friendship in these years is a little etched landscape which Rembrandt
made in 1641, showing a bridge near the country estate of the Six
family, a place called Elsbroek, near the village of Hillegom.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF JAN SIX
_Museum of Fine Arts, Boston_]

It was in 1647 that Rembrandt made this portrait of his friend, then
twenty-nine years of age. Six had now begun to make a name for himself
in the world of letters as a scholar and poet. He had already
published a poem on Muiderberg (a village near Amsterdam), and by this
time, doubtless, had under way his great literary work, the tragedy of
Medæa. Many were the times when Rembrandt, coming to his house to talk
over some new treasure-trove, found him in his library with his
head buried in a book, and his thoughts far away. It was in such a
moment that he must have had the idea of this beautiful portrait. He
catches his friend one day in the corner of his library, standing with
his back to the window to get the light on the book he is reading. He
transfers the picture to a copper plate and hands it down to future
generations.

The slender figure of the young man is clad in the picturesque dress
of a gentleman of his time, with knee-breeches and low shoes, with
wide white collar and cuffs. His abundant wavy blond hair falls to his
shoulders; he has the air of a true poet. In his eagerness to read, he
has flung his cavalier's cloak on the window seat behind him, a part
of it dropping upon a chair beyond. Its voluminous folds make a
cushion for him, as he leans gracefully against the window ledge. His
sword and belt lie on the chair with the cloak. For the moment the pen
is mightier than the sword. The furnishings of the room show the
owner's tastes; a pile of folio volumes fill a low chair, an antique
picture hangs on the wall.

The young man's face is seen by the light reflected from the pages of
his open book. It is a refined, sensitive face, of high intellectual
cast, amiable withal, and full of imagination. He is completely
absorbed in his reading, a smile playing about his mouth. How little
of a fop and how much of a poet he is, we see from his disordered
collar. Breathing quickly as he bends over his book, in his
excitement he cannot endure the restraint of a close collar. He has
unloosed it, as, quite oblivious of any untidiness in his appearance,
he hurries on, ruthlessly crushing the pages of the folio back, as he
grasps it in his hand.

The friendship between Six and Rembrandt seemed to grow apace; for
when the tragedy of Medæa was published, in 1648, it was illustrated
by a magnificent etching by Rembrandt, representing the Marriage of
Jason and Creusa.

The literary work of Jan Six led the way to various public honors. In
1656 he became commissioner of marriages; in 1667, a member of the
Council of the States General of Holland, and in 1691, burgomaster of
Amsterdam. His continued friendship for Rembrandt was shown in his
purchasing a number of the latter's paintings. Rembrandt at length
painted a magnificent portrait of his friend in his old age, which,
with the portrait of his mother and the original plate for this
etching, still remains in the Six family in Amsterdam. Referring to
the portrait of Jan Six, the famous Dutch poet, Vondel, contemporary
of Rembrandt and Six, paid a fitting tribute to the great burgomaster,
as a "lover of science, art, and virtue."



XII

PORTRAIT OF AN OLD WOMAN


The story is told of a little child who, upon being introduced to a
kind-faced lady, looked up brightly into her eyes with the question,
"Whose mother are you?" When we look into the wrinkled old face of
this picture, the same sort of a question springs to mind, and we
involuntarily ask, "Whose grandmother are you?" We are sure that
children and grandchildren have leaned upon that capacious lap. The
name of the subject is not known, though the same face appears many
times in Rembrandt's works. But there are many people whose names we
can quote, of whom we know much less than of this old woman.

The story of her life is written in the picture. Those clasped hands,
large and knotted, have done much hard work. They have ministered to
the needs of two generations. They have dandled the baby on her knee,
and supported the little toddler taking his first steps. They have
tended the child and wrought for the youth. They have built the fire
on the hearth and swept out the house; they have kneaded the bread and
filled the kettle; they have spun and woven, and sewed and mended.
They have not even shrunk from the coarser labors of dooryard and
field, the care of the cattle, the planting and harvesting. But labor
has done nothing to coarsen the innate refinement of the soul which
looks out of the fine old face.

She is resting now. The children and grandchildren have grown up to
take care of themselves and their grandmother also. She has time to
sit down in the twilight of life, just as she used to sit down at the
close of each day's work, to think over what has happened. She has a
large comfortable chair, and she is neatly dressed, as befits an old
woman whose life work is done. A white kerchief is folded across her
bosom, a shawl is wrapped about her shoulders, and a hood droops over
her forehead. Her thoughts are far away from her present surroundings;
something sad occupies them. She dreams of the past and perhaps also
of the future. Sorrow as well as work has had a large share in her
life, but she has borne it all with patient resignation. She is not
one to complain, and does not mean to trouble others with her sadness.
But left all alone with her musings, a look of yearning comes into her
eyes as for something beautiful and much loved, lost long ago.

Some painters have been at great pains to fashion a countenance
sorrowful enough and patient enough to represent the subject of the
Mater Dolorosa, that is, the Sorrowing Mother of Christ. Perhaps they
would have succeeded better if they had turned away from their own
imaginations to some mother in real life, who has loved and worked
and suffered like this one. The face answers in part our first
question. A woman like this is capable of mothering great sons.
Industrious, patient, self-sacrificing, she would spare herself
nothing to train them faithfully. And the life of which her face
speaks--a life of self-denying toil, ennobled by high ideals of
duty--is the stuff of which heroes are made. Some of the great men of
history had such mothers.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF AN OLD WOMAN
_Hermitage Gallery, St. Petersburg_]

The picture illustrates the fact that a face may be interesting and
even artistic, if not beautiful. This idea may surprise many, for when
one calls a person "as pretty as a picture," it seems to be understood
that it is only pretty people who make suitable models for pictures.
Rembrandt, however, was of quite another mind. He was a student of
character as well as a painter, and he cared to paint faces more for
their expression than for beauty of feature.

Now the expression of a face is to a great extent the index of
character. We say that the child has "no character in his face,"
meaning that his skin is still fair and smooth, before his thoughts
and feelings have made any record there. Gradually the character
impresses itself on his face. Experience acts almost like a sculptor's
chisel, carving lines of care and grooving furrows of sorrow, shaping
the mouth and the setting of the eyes.

The longer this process continues, the more expressive the face
becomes, so that it is the old whose faces tell the most interesting
stories of life. Rembrandt understood this perfectly, and none ever
succeeded better than he in revealing the poetry and beauty of old
age.

His way of showing the character in the face of this old woman is very
common with him. The high light of the picture is concentrated on the
face and is continued down upon the snowy kerchief. This forms a
diamond of light shading by gradations into darker tints. It was the
skillful use of light and shadow in the picture, which made a poetic
and artistic work of a subject which another painter might have made
very commonplace.



XIV

THE SYNDICS OF THE CLOTH GUILD


The word syndic is a name applied to an officer of a corporation, and
this is its meaning in the title of the picture, The Syndics of the
Cloth Guild. In Holland, as in England and France and elsewhere in
Europe, guilds were associations of tradesmen or artisans united for
purposes of mutual help and for the interests of their respective
industries. In some points they were the forerunners of modern trades
unions, except that the members were proprietary merchants and master
craftsmen instead of employees, and their purpose was the advancement
of commercial interests in municipal affairs, instead of the
protection of labor against capital. There were guilds of mercers,
wine merchants, goldsmiths, painters and many others.

Now the wool industry was one of the most important in Holland, hence
the Guild of Drapers or Cloth Workers was a dignified association in
several cities. There was one in Leyden, where Rembrandt was born, and
another in Amsterdam, where he passed the most of his life. Amsterdam
was at that time the foremost commercial city of Europe. Its guilds
had fine halls, ornamented with works of art painted by the best
contemporary artists. It was for this purpose that Rembrandt received
from the Amsterdam Cloth Guild the commission to paint a portrait
group of their five officers, and he accordingly delivered to them in
1661 the great picture of which we have this little reproduction to
examine.

Just as in the picture of the Civic Guard he had given life to the
portraits, by showing the members in some action appropriate to their
military character, so here he represents the officers of the guild in
surroundings suggestive of their duties. They are gathered about a
table covered with a rich scarlet cloth, on which rests the great
ledger of the corporation. They are engaged in balancing their
accounts and preparing a report for the year, and a servant awaits
their order in the rear of the apartment. Their task seems a pleasant
one, for whatever difficulties have arisen during their
administration, it is evident that the outcome is successful. They
take a quiet satisfaction in the year's record.

It is as if in the midst of their consultations, as they turn the
leaves of the ledger, we suddenly open the door into the room. They
are surprised but not disturbed by the intrusion, and look genially
towards the newcomers. The younger man at the end welcomes us with a
smile. Next to him is one who has been leaning over the book. He
raises his head and meets our eyes frankly and cordially. His
companion continues his discourse, gesturing with the right hand. The
older men at one side give more attention to the arrival. One seated
in the armchair smiles good naturedly; the other, rising and
leaning on the table, peers forward with a look of keen inquiry.

[Illustration: THE SYNDICS OF THE CLOTH GUILD
_Ryks Museum, Amsterdam_]

As we examine the faces one by one, we could almost write a character
study of each man, so wonderfully does the portrait reveal the inner
life--the placid amiability of one, the quiet humor of another, the
keen, incisive insight of a third. That they are all men of sound
judgment we may well believe, and they are plainly men to be trusted.
The motto of the guild is a key to their character: "Conform to your
vows in all matters clearly within their jurisdiction; live honestly;
be not influenced in your judgments by favor, hatred, or personal
interest." These principles are at the foundation of the commercial
prosperity for which Holland is noted.

The picture may be taken to illustrate a page in American history. It
was the Dutch, as we all remember, who founded the State of New York,
and the fifty years of their occupation (1614-1664) fell within the
lifetime of Rembrandt. The fifteen thousand settlers, who came during
this time from Holland to America, brought with them the manners and
customs of their home country. The citizens of New Amsterdam were the
counterparts of their contemporaries in the old Amsterdam. We may see,
then, in this picture of the Cloth Merchants of Amsterdam just such
men as were to be seen among our own colonists. In the broad-brimmed
hat and the wide white collar we find the same peculiarities of dress,
and in their honest faces we read the same national traits. It was to
men like these that we owe a debt of gratitude for some of the best
elements in our national life. In the words of a historian,[11] "The
republican Dutchmen gave New York its tolerant and cosmopolitan
character, insured its commercial supremacy, introduced the common
schools, founded the oldest day school and the first Protestant church
in the United States, and were pioneers in most of the ideas and
institutions we boast of as distinctly American."

[Footnote 11: W. E. Griffis, in _Brave Little Holland_, pp. 212-213.]

If you fancy that it was quite accidental that the six figures of this
picture are so well arranged, and wonder why the art of Rembrandt
should be so praised here, you may try an experiment with your camera
upon a group of six figures. In posing six persons in any order which
is not stiff, and getting them all to look with one accord and quite
naturally towards a single point, you will understand some of the many
difficulties which Rembrandt overcame so simply.



XV

THE THREE TREES


Holland, as is well known, is a country built upon marshes, which have
been drained and filled in by the patient industry of many generations
of workers. The land is consequently very low, almost perfectly level,
and is covered by a network of canals. It lacks many of the features
which make up the natural scenery of other countries,--mountains and
ravines, rocks and rivers,--but it is, nevertheless, a very
picturesque country. Artists love it for the quiet beauty of its
landscape. Though this is not grand and awe-inspiring, it is restful
and attractive.

We may well believe that the artistic nature of Rembrandt was
sensitive to the influences of his native Dutch scenery. Though his
great forte in art lay in other directions, he paused from time to
time to paint or etch a landscape.

Even in this unaccustomed work he proved himself a master. He treated
the subject much as he did a portrait,--trying to bring out the
character of the scene just as he brought out the character in a face.
How much of a story he could tell in a single picture we see in this
famous etching called The Three Trees.

One can tell at a glance that this is Holland. We look across a wide
level stretch of land, and the eye travels on and on into an almost
endless distance. Far away we see the windmills of a Dutch town
outlined against the sky,--a sign of industry as important in Holland
as are factory chimneys in some other parts of the world. Beyond this,
another endless level stretch meets the sky at the horizon line. It is
hard to distinguish the land and water, which seem to lie in alternate
strips. The pastures are surrounded by canals as by fences.

Here and there are cows grazing, and we are reminded of the fine dairy
farms for which Holland is noted, the rich butter and cheese, which
are the product of these vast flat lands, apparently so useless and
unproductive. Directly in front of us, at the left, is a still pool,
and on the farther bank stands a fisherman holding a rod over the
water. A woman seated on the bank watches the process with intense
interest. There are two other figures near by which can hardly be
discerned.

[Illustration: THE THREE TREES
_Museum of Fine Arts, Boston_]

The wide outlook of flat country is the setting for the little
tree-crowned hill which rises near us at the right. It would seem a
very small hillock anywhere else, but in these level surroundings it
has a distinct character. It is the one striking feature which gives
expression to the face of the landscape. The eye turns with pleasure
to its grassy slopes and leafy trees. The trees have the symmetrical
grace so characteristic of Dutch vegetation. Nothing is allowed to
grow wild in this country. Every growing thing is carefully nurtured
and trained. We see that the distances between these trees were
carefully spaced in the planting, so that each one might develop
independently and perfectly without injury to the others. The branches
grow from their straight trunks at the same height, and they are
plainly of the same age. Their outer branches interlace in brotherly
companionship to make a solid leafy arbor, beneath which the wayfarer
may find a shady retreat. On the summit of the hill, outlined against
the sky, is a hay wagon followed by a man with a rake. At a distance,
also clearly seen against the sky, on the ridge of the hill, sits a
man, alone and idle.

The sky is a wonderful part of the picture. Rembrandt, it appears,
almost never ventured to represent the clouds. He had the true
artist's reverence for subjects which were beyond his skill, and
preferred to leave untouched what he could not do well. Now in this
case, lacking the experience to draw a sky as finished in workmanship
as his landscape, he _suggested_ in a few lines the effect which he
wished to produce. At the left a few diagonal strokes show a smart
shower just at hand. A whirl of dark-colored clouds comes next, and in
the upper air beyond, a stratum of clouds is indicated by a mass of
lines crossing and recrossing in long swirling curves.

With these few lines Rembrandt conveys perfectly the idea that a storm
is approaching. The clouds seem to be in motion, scurrying across the
sky in advance of the rain. One imaginative critic has thought that
he could discern in the cloud-whirl a dim phantom figure as of the
spirit of the on-coming storm. Like the clouds we often see in nature,
it takes some new fantastic shape every time we look at it. Altogether
the impression we receive is that of vivid reality. The artist's few
lines have produced with perfect success an effect, which might have
been entirely spoiled had he tried to finish it carefully.

We look once more at the landscape to see what influence the coming
storm has upon it. The fisherman pays no heed. The clouding of the sky
only makes the fish bite better, and absorbed in his sport he cares
nothing for weather. The haymaker on the hilltop has a better chance
to read the face of the sky, and starts up his wagon. The three trees
seem to feel the impending danger. Their leafage is already darkening
in the changed light, and they toss their branches in the wind, as if
to wrestle with the spirit of the storm.



XVI

THE PORTRAIT OF REMBRANDT


In studying the fifteen pictures of this collection, we have seen
something of the work of the great Dutch master, Rembrandt, and have
learned a little of the man himself, of his love for the sweet wife,
Saskia, of his friendship with the cultured burgomaster, Jan Six, of
his faithful and reverent study of the Bible, of his rare insight into
people's character. We are ready now to look directly into the
artist's own face, in a portrait by his own hand.

There are a great many portraits of Rembrandt etched and painted by
himself. We have noticed how fond he was of painting the same model
many times, in order to make a thorough study of the face, in varying
moods and expressions. Now there was one sitter who was always at
hand, and ready to do his bidding. He had only to take a position in
front of a mirror, and there was this model willing to pose in any
position and with any expression he desired. So obliging a sitter
could nowhere else be found; and thus it is that there is such a large
collection of his self-made portraits.

His habit of painting his own portrait gave him an opportunity to
study all sorts of costume effects. His patrons were plain, slow-going
Dutchmen who did not want any "fancy" effects in their portraits.
They wished first of all a faithful likeness in such clothing as they
ordinarily wore. It was chiefly in his own portraits that Rembrandt
had the satisfaction of painting the rich and fanciful costumes he
loved so well. He wore in turn all sorts of hats and caps, many jewels
and ornaments, and every variety of mantle, doublet, and cuirass. In
this he was somewhat like an actor taking the parts of many different
characters. Sometimes he is an officer with mustaches fiercely
twisted, carrying his head with a dashing military air. Again he is a
cavalier wearing his velvet mantle, and plumed hat, with the languid
elegance of a gentleman of leisure. Sometimes he seems a mere country
boor, a rough, unkempt fellow, with coarse features and a heavy
expression.

As we see him acting so many rôles, we may well wonder what the
character of the man really was. As a matter of fact, he was full of
singular contradictions. In his personal habits he was frugal and
temperate to the last degree, preferring the simplest fare, and
contenting himself with a lunch of herring and cheese when occupied
with his work. On the other hand, his artistic tastes led him into
reckless extravagance. He thought no price too great to pay for a
choice painting, or rare print, upon which he had set his heart. He
was generous to a fault, fond of his friends, yet living much alone.

In the portrait we have chosen for our frontispiece, we like to
believe that we see Rembrandt, the man himself. He wears one of his
rich studio costumes, but the face which he turns to ours is quite
free from any affectation; a spirit of sincerity looks out of his
kindly eyes. The portrait is signed and dated 1640, so that the man is
between thirty and thirty-five years of age. This was the happiest
period of Rembrandt's life, while his wife Saskia was still living to
brighten his home.

We see his contentment in his face. He has large mobile features,
which have here settled into an expression of genial repose. He has
the dignified bearing of one whose professional success entitles him
to a just sense of self-satisfaction, but he is not posing as a great
man. He is still a simple-hearted miller's son, a man whom we should
like to meet in his own family circle, with his little ones playing
about him. He is a man to whom children might run, sure of a friendly
welcome; he is a man whom strangers might trust, sure of his
sincerity. It is, in short, Rembrandt, with all the kindliest human
qualities uppermost, which show us, behind the artist, the man
himself.

       *       *       *       *       *



PRONOUNCING VOCABULARY OF PROPER NAMES AND FOREIGN WORDS

The Diacritical Marks given are those found in the latest edition of
Webster's International Dictionary.

EXPLANATION OF DIACRITICAL MARKS.


A Dash (¯) above the vowel denotes the long sound, as in fāte, ēve,
     tīme, nōte, ūse.

A Dash and a Dot (-̇) above the vowel denote the same sound, less
     prolonged.

A Curve (˘) above the vowel denotes the short sound, as in ădd, ĕnd,
     ĭll, ŏdd, ŭp.

A Dot ( ̇) above the vowel a denotes the obscure sound of a in pȧst,
     ȧbāte, Amĕricȧ.

A Double Dot (¨) above the vowel a denotes the broad sound of a in
     fäther, älms.

A Double Dot (..) below the vowel a denotes the sound of a in ba̤ll.

A Wave (~) above the vowel e denotes the sound of e in hẽr.

A Circumflex Accent (^) above the vowel o denotes the sound of o in bôrn.

ḗ sounds like e in dḗpĕnd.

ṓ sounds like o in prṓpōse.

ç sounds like s.

c̵ sounds like k.

ṣ̱ sounds like z.

ḡ is hard as in ḡet.

ġ is soft as in ġem.


Amsterdam (Ăm'stẽrdăm).

Apocrypha (ȧ pŏḱrĭ fȧ).

Aramaic (Ărȧmā'ĭc̵).

Asenath (Āsē'năth).

Assyria (Ăssy̆r'ĭȧ).

Azarias (Ăzȧrī'ăs).


Bathsheba (Băthshē'bȧ).

Bethlehem (Bĕth'lēhĕm).

Bildt (bēlt).

Braun (brown).
̄
Breestraat (brā'strät).

burgher (bẽr'gẽr).


Capernaum (c̵āpẽr'nāŭm).

Cassel (käs'sĕl).

chiaroscuro (kyä rṓ sk[=oo]'rṓ).

Cleopas (c̵lē'ōpăs).

Cocq (kōk̄).

Coppenol (kŏp'pḗ nŏ).

Creusa (c̵rēū́sȧ).

cuirass (kwē räs').

cymar (sī mär').


doelen (d[=oo]'lĕn).


Ecbatane (ĕk băt'ȧ nŭ).

Elsbroek (ĕls'br[=oo]k).

Emmaus (Emmā'ŭs (or ĕm'mā ŭs)).

Enemessar (Enēmĕs'săr).

Ephraim (E'phrāĭm).

etzn (ĕt'zn̆).


Friesland (frēz'lȧnd).

Fromentin (frṓ-mŏN-tăN').


Gabael (Găb'ā̇ĕl (or gā̇'bā̇ ĕl)).

Galileo (Gălĭlē'ṓ).

Gennesaret (Ġĕnnĕs'ȧrĕt).

Goethe (ḡẽ'tŭ).


Hague (hāg).

Hamelin (hä'mĕ lĭn).

Hanfstaengl, Franz (hänf'stāngl fränts).

Hatto (hăt'ṓ).

Hillegom (hĭl'lḗ gŏm).


Israel (ĭz'rā̇-ĕl).


Jason (Jā'sŏn).

Jericho (Jĕr'ĭc̵hō).

Joden (yō'dĕn).


Lastman, Pieter (läst'män pē'tẽr).

Leyden (lī'dĕn).

Louvre (l[=oo]́vr).


Manasseh (mȧ năs'sŭ).

Manoah (Mā̇nō'ȧh).

Mater Dolorosa (mā'tẽr  dŏl ṓ rō'sȧ).

Medæa (mḗ dē'ȧ).

Media (mē'dĭ ȧ).

Michel (mḗ shĕl').

Muiderberg (moi'de̯r bĕrg).


Nazareth (Năz'ȧrĕth).

Nineveh (nĭn'ḗ vŭ).


Odalisque (ō'dȧ lĭsk).


Padanaram (Pādȧnā'rȧm).

Palestine (Păl'ĕstīne).

Peniel (Pḗnī'ḗl).

Penuel (Pḗnū'ĕl).

Purmerland (Pŭr'mẽrlănd).


Rages (Rā'gēs).

Raguel (Rā̇gū'ĕl (or răg'ū ĕl)).

Raphael (rä'fā-ĕl).

Rembrandt (rĕm'brănt).

Ruytenberg, Willem van (roi'te̯n bĕrg wĭl'lĕm vän).

Ryks (Rȳks).


Saskia (säs'kḗ ȧ).

Sennacherib (Sĕnnăch'ḗrĭb).

Simeon (Sĭm'ē̇ŏn).

Six, Jan (sēx yän).

Stuttgart (st[)oo]t'gärt).

Sylvius, Jan Cornelis (sĭl'vḗ [)oo]s yän kṓr nē'lĭs).

Syndic (Sy̆n'dĭc̵).

Swanenburch (swä'nĕn b[)oo]rK).


Tigris (Tī'grĭs).

Tobias (Tṓbī'ăs).

Tobit (Tō'bĭt).

Trippenhuis (trĭp'pĕn hois).


Uylenborch, Rombertus van (oi'lĕn bṓrK rŏm bĕr't[)oo]s vän).


Vlaerdingen (vlär'dĭng ĕn).

Vondel (vŏn'dĕl).


Wijmer (wī'mẽr).

       *       *       *       *       *





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