Friday, June 29, 2012

Feast your eyes on a Rembrandt

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It's not every day that I see a Rembrandt!
This is St. Peter in Prison (The Apostle Peter Kneeling) , 1631.
It hangs in the Israel Museum.
I have been saving it to post today, June 29, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

(Make sure to click on the picture and then once again.)

Today's liturgical feast is in honor of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Peter and Paul.
According to my Ministry of Tourism calendar the main celebration in Israel is in Jaffa, Tiberias, and Capernaum.

Our painting, however, is a scene of Peter's earlier arrest--in Jerusalem.

The Israel Museum writes
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John . . . and . . . he proceeded to arrest Peter also. . . . And when he had seized him, he put him in prison.
(The Acts of the Apostles 12:1–4)

Rembrandt’s painting shows the apostle Peter in his prison cell in Jerusalem following his arrest. A shaft of soft, golden light falls on him from an unseen source, leaving large parts of the painting in total obscurity.
The saint’s attribute is clearly visible, however: two large metal keys signifying the keys to the kingdom of Heaven bestowed on him by Jesus, which in this situation suggest the irony of his jailed state.
St. Peter kneels, his gnarled hands (the hands of the fisherman he once was) clasped in prayer but also in despair, his lined face expressing an old man’s desolation. He cannot know that the Angel of God – perhaps foreshadowed in the mysterious source of light – will soon appear to bring about his miraculous escape.

The simple humanity of Peter is emphasized, and yet the radiance that encircles his face like a kind of halo conveys his sanctity.
This different interpretation of a familiar subject exemplifies Rembrandt’s genius at portraying states of mind and spiritual qualities through the language of light and shadow.
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P.S. Please see a funny update to yesterday's post about Italian.
And today is also Day of Archaeology 2012. At the website hundreds of people working in the broad field of archaeology write about what they are doing today.

7 comments:

Kay said...

This really shows the artistry of Rembrandt and his use of light.

Hels said...

Rembrandt’s genius was wide ranging but I agree that he could certainly portray states of mind and spiritual qualities through the language of light and shadow. It didn't even matter that half the prison cell was in darkness.

Adullamite said...

A Rembrandt in Israel? I wish I had known. Wonderful picture although historically incorrect as you archaeologists would know. Still a great picture and you did well to get such a good shot of it, very tricky that. I don't think Peter was that old, he did travel around for another 30 years or so! Enjoyed this post.

cieldequimper said...

Yes, yes, yes. A master.

Birdman said...

My two best friends are Peter and Paul. Our friends call us 'the apostles' in jest. Can you guess my name???? Mercy!

Julie said...

The portal appears to be down again for our CDPB July Theme Day of Chimneys. I have reprised the alternative method of linking used when we had issues last March. Please check here and join in if you are of a mind.

http://cdpbthemeday.blogspot.com.au/

crystal said...

Great photo.

On my one trip to europe, our tour stopped at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and we saw Rembrandt's Night Watch painting - what I mostly remember about it was how big it was :)