“The Polish Rider” depicts a young man travelling on horseback through a dark and gloomy landscape. It is not known whether the painting was a portrait of a particular person, living or historical, or the story it represents. There is also some uncertainty who the artist was. However, the quality of the painting and complex expression on the Rider’s brilliantly painted face all point to Rembrandt, and that is the majority consensus of the experts.
The identity of the portrayed figure has encouraged various theories but no clear answer. The outfit of the rider, the weapons and even the breed of horse are believed to be Polish or eastern European. The young rider appears to be facing potential danger in the mountainous landscape. Some historical and biblical characters have been suggested. Including the speculation that the figure representing a “soldier of Christ”, an idealistic representation of a mounted soldier defending Eastern Europe against the Turks.
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.
- Title: The Polish Rider
- Polish: Lisowczyk
- Artist: Rembrandt
- Created: 1655
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Periods: Dutch Golden Age, Baroque
- Dimensions: 116.8 × 134.9 cm (46 × 53.1 in)
- Museum: Frick Collection
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:
“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Leonardo da Vinci
Photo Credit 1) Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons