Sunday, April 01, 2007

Rembrandt’s Painting of Jeremiah

Posed by Debbie

The Journal of Warburg and Courtauld institutes: It is unclear whether the painting is referring to before of after the destruction of the temple. The diagonal of light surrounding Jeremiah combines the two scenes of light to be together as one.

Jeremiah’s pose with his head in his hands is typical melancholy. His elbow rests on a book inscribes “bible” on the edges (though it is widely assumed this is a later edition to the painting). The book is presumably his own book or Lamentations. Additionally Jeremiah’s hands are resting on a few pieces of gold and silver.

Some questions to think about:
How does Rembrandt’s use of light and dark convey the tone of Sefer Jeremiah?
WHEN in Sefer Jeremiah is this painting taking place (before or after the destruction)? What book is he leaning on?
What are those gold and silver pieces he is leaning on?

If you have trouble seeing the picture, try:


Anonymous Eliana said...

Aright I'll start this off... First of all, I can't really come to any other conclusion than that the book is Rembrandt's version of the Torah. the silver things I think represent the Keilim of the Beit Hamikdash. I think that there are two parts of the light-use in the picture. Rembrandt could have chosen to paint the picture completely dark, and in that case I would have thought that the picture occured after the exhile. But instead, there is light in the entire left side of the picture, which makes me believe that the picture is more during the time Yirmiyahu believes he can change Bnei Yisorel's behavior in order to avoid exhile. This would also explain his contemplative facial expression as well as his leabing on the Torah because he is contemplating the fate of the Torah. The dark that is on the torah side of the page hoewvere shows that bnei yisroel is in fact doomed.

April 11, 2007 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Lisa Amy said...

First of all I would like to say that i think this was a really crative post. Alright, getting to it. I think the silver and gold pieces are vessels of the beit hamikdash, which would mean that yirmiyahu salvaged them from the beit hamikdash, and thus the picture was painted after the destruction of the temple. I can only conclude that those pieces are from the temple because even though we did learn in class that a navi must be rich(so that he can support himself and his travels, and not take bribes, among other reasons) i dont think that a navi like yirmiyahu, or any navi for that matter, would be portrayed with riches. Neviim are supposed to be humble and wise and would be portrayed with books, whereas kings would normally be portrayed with gold and silver to exemplify their wealth and power. Thus, i belive that the gold and silver was to signify the destruction of teh bait. Yirmiyahu was probably portrayed with the vessels of the bait because he was the "prophet of the destruction". This leads to the darkness and lightness of the picture. I think the darkness also described how yirmiyahu was the navi of the destruction and his angst and the sorrow of the period. The lighness on the other hand may show either his holiness for he followed hashem..., despite the events of the time, or the fact that now that bnei israel has hit rock bottom with the destruction of the temple, they are now able to move forward and improve- so the light shows the hope for the future. Lastly, i would assume that the book he is leaning on is the torah because it looks very old and worn as if it was used a lot and it shows his studing of hashems torah. I f it was his book i dont think it would be as worn because it would not be so old (because it is obviously not as old as the torah and he did not write it right at the begging of his life), and he would know its contents so he would not have to continuously review it.
Thanks for the post debbie!!!

April 23, 2007 9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Eliana and Lisa that the gold and silver pieces are from the beit hamikdash. It certainly is unclear when this painting was supposed to have occurred. On one hand, if the pieces really are the calim, then it has to have taken place after the destruction. On the other hand, even if the pieces were supposed to be the calim, this painting might not be historically accurate. It is also possible that the gold and silver had nothing to do with the beit hamikdash. The book, to me, is just a book. I believe that it was painted to show that Yirmiyahu was a learned man. He was smart and this is conveyed through the image of the book. Finally, the use of light and dark is quite interesting in this particular piece. The darkness is used to show the terrible sins of the Jews. They did not have the best relationship with God at this point. The light, on the other hand, was used to show that there is still hope for them. Bnei Israel could still improve and could still strive for a great relationship with God. Another thing I noticed is the robe that he is wearing in the picture. Similar to what Lisa said, Neviim had to have wealth so that they cold support themselves. The robe in this painting looks quite nice. Such a fancy robe could portray his wealthy status.
Naomi Z

May 27, 2007 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

heres my ineterpretation of the painitng. firstly, the book of Jeremiah begins with a certain darkness, because it was right after the galut and chorban, therefore it is a time of despair, but later on in the Sefer he discusses hope for the future (T'chiat Hametim, Mashiach, etc)
i think that the painting is in the end of his time as a prophet to Bnei Yisrael for multiple reasons. firstly, the darkness above him seems to be acsending and the darkness next to him also seems to be moving out of the frame, the only darkness still witihn a main part of the picture is shadow, which is acutally small and light, showing that there is more light in the piture than darkness. this darkness is being "pushed away" by the light, for this is the time when Jeremiah becomes more optimistic, and is espuosing hope for the future. His facial expression though is not one of hope, he is sitting and looking despairinlgy, because no matter what heis message, Bnei Yisrael are not listening to him, and he has spent the last cuople of decades trying to get the to connect with God, and they jsut dont listen, not only does that depress and amn, but also wear him out, as you see from his blading head and white hair. his body is also not one of a young muscular man, rather of an elderly, and agian, worn out, and tired man. AS for his clothes and money, i got the impression that his possessions int he cave are his only possessions, or if not he has little in addition, this too shows how the Jews pushed him away form the but with the lightest part being right next to his nice robes, it also shows the hope and optimism he has for Bnei Yisrael's future. the contrast of light and dark, as well as the specific details of this painting prove that Remembrant painted this to portray the later years in Jeremiah's life.


May 30, 2007 10:29 PM  
Blogger tamar said...

wow, Rabbi Krestt, sorry, i jsut realized that i mixed up Jeremiah and Ezekial and my comment is rly about Ezekial, so um you an ignore that and ill find anothe rblog to post on. sorry!


May 30, 2007 10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

January 09, 2010 8:35 PM  

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