The Joy of Museums

Finding Meaning in a Museum

The Jewish Bride

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn - Portret van een paar als oudtestamentische figuren, genaamd 'Het Joodse bruidje' - Google Art Project

“The Jewish Bride” by Rembrandt, painted around 1667, gained its name in the early 19th century, when an Amsterdam art collector identified the couple as that of a Jewish father bestowing a necklace upon his daughter on her wedding day.

This interpretation is no longer accepted, and the identity of the couple is uncertain. The likeliest depiction is that of Isaac and Rebekah, as described in Genesis 26:8, and is supported by a drawing by Rembrandt of the same theme.

Rembrandt Isaac and Rebecca

Isaac and Rebeccah drawing by Rembrandt

The painting was probably a commissioned portrait of a couple in the guise of a biblical pair such as Isaac and Rebecca and is a brilliant colour creation. The composition is an enduring expression of tenderness and love. The couple’s embrace is at the centre of this poignant painting. The man’s loving gesture is returned with a gentle caress. The couple show all the signs of tenderness towards each other, so this is not a common seduction scene popular at the time. This painting it exemplifies Rembrandt’s genius for expressing human emotion and is one of the great portrait paintings of his final period.

Vincent van Gogh said of this painting:

“I should be happy to give ten years of my life, if I could go on sitting here in front of this picture for a fortnight, with only a crust of dry bread for food.”

Rembrandt - The Jewish Bride (detail) - WGA19160

Detail of the hands and jewellery

Many of Rembrandt paintings can be found in museums across the world, depict famous story narratives and scenes. My favourites include:

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                 The Jewish Bride
  • Dutch Title:     Het Joodse bruidje
  • Artist:               Rembrandt
  • Created:           c. 1667
  • Medium:         oil on canvas
  • Periods:           Dutch Golden Age, Baroque
  • Dimensions:   121.5 cm × 166.5 cm (47.8 in × 65.6 in)
  • Museum:         Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Artist Essential Facts:

  • Name:                        Rembrant Harmenszoon van Rijn
  • Born:                          1606 – Leiden, Dutch Republic (now the Netherlands)
  • Died:                          1669 (aged 63) – Amsterdam, Dutch Republic (Netherlands)
  • Nationality:              Dutch
  • Movement:               Dutch Golden Age, Baroque

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“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Leonardo da Vinci

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Photo Credit 1) Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons