A Problem of Rembrandt
Rembrandt’s Later Religious
The 16 paintings are assigned dates from 1657 to 1661, and come from across the United States, Europe and Scandinavia. The earliest, Bearded Man with a Cap, studies light striking the right eye while the left is in shadow. The first of three Apostles Paul exhibits the propoundment of a problem, which is clarified immediately in the first of two Apostles Bartholomew. The Washington, D.C. Paul is exhaustingly wearied by his travails, the light strikes his head and the hand holding the quill, lesser light hits the page before him. This is Paul the Explainer. The San Diego Bartholomew receives the light on his face and also on the right hand holding the knife, he was flayed alive for his faith. The knitted brow is incorrect close up, but acquiesces from a distance.
The London Paul (An Elderly Man as the Apostle Paul) gives the light full face and half-light on the clasped hands, an expression of patience. The Rijksmuseum Paul (a self-portrait) solves the problem definitively. The blinding light hits the top of the head in a banded headdress, and goes on to strike the book he’s holding more dimly, while he looks askance. The Getty Bartholomew is, I would advance, a self-portrait in another skin.
Christ in the Hyde Collection wears red under his cloak, robin-breasted in a single image. The Man in a Red Cap (Rotterdam) is broken up for distance viewing in a Geer van Velde geometricization. Hendrickje Stoffels at the Metropolitan is the Beloved seen most fully, not “Possibly as the Sorrowing Virgin”. The Alte Pinakothek Resurrected Christ (possibly a fragment) is a great but arcane study, the white robe or cerecloth on the right shoulder is raised on the left. The Helsinki Monk Reading, Possibly Saint Francis is absorbed in his cowl, light strikes the text he is reading. The Zurich Apostle Simon has a halo of nebulous light, the Metropolitan Christ with a Pilgrim’s Staff (possibly James the Minor, first bishop of Jerusalem) has some light behind him on the column he’s standing next to, the white undergarment at his breast conveys the tone. The privately-owned Apostle James the Major catches the light on his thin ruff and blue-veined hands. The Épinal Virgin of Sorrows is abstracted by the white light streaming down her bosom. Saint Bavo (known in Göteborg as Riddaren med Falken) has the consciousness of light on his face, with dimly around him a horse, a groom, and a falcon.