The Joy of Museums

Finding Beauty & Meaning in Museums

“The Jewish Bride” by Rembrandt

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

“The Jewish Bride” by Rembrandt, 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 evidenced 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 shows all the signs of tenderness towards each other, so this is not a typical seduction scene which was a favourite 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

Rembrandt was an innovative and prolific master of the visual artists. His works depict a wide range of style and subject matter, from portraits to landscapes, allegorical and historical scenes, biblical and mythological themes. Living during a period of great wealth and cultural achievement, the Dutch Golden Age, he achieved success early in his career as a portrait painter. However, Rembrandt lived beyond his means and his later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardships.

Rembrandt was buried as a poor man in an unknown grave, owned by the church. After twenty years, his remains were destroyed, as was customary for poor people at the time.

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:                        Rembrandt 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
  • Notable works:

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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