Rembrandt's source for this painting, the Old Testament Book of Daniel (5: 1-6, 25-8), tells of a banquet Belshazzar, King of Babylon, gave for his nobles. At this banquet he blasphemously served wine in the sacred vessels one of his predecessors had looted from the Temple in Jerusalem.  Rembrandt shows the moment when a divine hand appeared and wrote on the wall a phrase only Daniel could decipher. When transliterated the inscription reads: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the…

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn – Belshazzar’s Feast National Gallery, London

Fixed size image

A Bearded Man in a Cap late Rembrandt

The Latin title 'Ecce Homo' is taken from the Bible, and means 'Behold the man!' These words were said by Pontius Pilate during the trial of Jesus, as it is told in the Gospel of Saint John (19: 5). Pilate presents Christ to the people, who, urged on by their priests, demand his execution, insisting that they have no king but Caesar. In the painting the clock is at the sixth hour. The bust is that of Caesar and represents the Roman state. The priests, who press the staff of judgement upon…

Ecce Homo // 1634 // Rembrandt // © The National Gallery,London //

Rembrandt's ability to capture a likeness and a sense of the sitter's character sets him apart from many of his contemporaries. In particular his portrayal of old people, including himself as he aged, was always disarmingly honest. With its loose application of paint this work shows the painter's acute observation and imaginative insight into the mood and the personality of the sitter. This sitter has recently been identified as Aechje Claesdr., widow of the Rotterdam brewer, Jan Dammaszn…

Rembrandt, Portrait of Aechje is one of the several oval portraits fashionable at that time. The masterfully executed black dress and white ruff complement the expressive countenance of the old woman.

Frederick Rihel (1621 - 1681) came from Strasbourg and is first mentioned in Amsterdam in 1642, remaining there as a successful merchant until his death in 1681. As an official of the civic guard he took part in the procession which welcomed the Prince of Orange into Amsterdam in 1660.  This seems to be the occasion portrayed here judging by Frederick Rihel's ornate dress and the glimpses of the procession winding along behind him. Rihel wears a buff jerkin with sleeves and cuffs decorated…

View: Rembrandt, Portrait of Frederick Rihel on Horseback.

This impressive portrait, dating from the last decade of Rembrandt's life, depicts the extremely wealthy Dordrecht merchant Jacob Trip.  The portrait dates from the year of Jacob's death; nightcap, dressing gown and walking stick suggest frailty. The portrait has less vitality than the companion portrait of his wife, Margaretha de Geer, and it is conceivable that it was painted posthumously.

Rembrandt Van Rijn Portret of the Dortrecht Jacob Trip (merchant) 1661

The story of Anna, her husband Tobit and their son Tobias is told in the apocryphal Book of Tobit. God tested them by reducing them to poverty and causing Tobit's blindness. In the 17th century they were considered to be examples of piety in adversity.  This painting was engraved as the work of Rembrandt during his lifetime, but it has subsequently been argued that its meticulous detail suggests that it was either a collaboration between Rembrandt and his Leiden pupil Gerrit Dou, or by Dou…

View: Rembrandt, Anna and the Blind Tobit. Read about this painting, learn the key facts and zoom in to discover more.

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