DayBreaks for 09/24/13 – The Vision of a Return to the Father
Throughout a long, prolific career, Rembrandt often used the Bible as a source of inspiration for his art. As he did so, he breathed new light into the people and stories from the New Testament, but most particularly the faces and events that were directly connected with the life of Jesus.
His patrons included a wide religious spectrum, but he wasn’t, as far as we know, an active church-goer. His spirituality is seen in his art. Like many contemporaries, he read the Bible frequently and internalized its lessons as his faith and beliefs were a source of comfort during the hard times of his life.
During the 1640’s one by one each of his three infant children would die within the first few months of life. His fourth child would to everyone’s surprise survive infancy the others could not. The birth and survival of his son Titus was one of the biggest joys of his lifetime. Just when life seemed to be getting better his wife, Saskia, died one year after the birth of the son.
To make matters worse, Rembrandt was forced to declare financial insolvency in 1656 and auction off his extremely valuable art collection and all of his household possessions. In an effort to find solace during these times of grief and darkness, Rembrandt began to paint religious portraits and scenes: the depictions of Christ and the Virgin, the Apostles, namely James, Paul, Bartholomew and Simon, the Evangelists, Monks and Saints. Also one of his most famous pieces is his self-portrait as the Apostle Paul, dated 1657.
His religious art remains some of the most important work of his career. The biblical paintings say something very profound about the artist, his beliefs and his ability to see into and paint the human soul.
Fascinatingly, his last work was “The Return of the Prodigal Son” which he left on the easel at his death in 1669 and was completed by his pupil. It is a highlighted flare of his vision of his approaching death. He is returning to his forgiving Father: a Father who has grace in His face, arms outstretched and there is so much light on them both: repentance and acceptance.
May we all find the light of repentance and forgiveness as pictured by Rembrandt as we approach each day.
PRAYER: Jesus, I thank you for this wonderful story that has breathed hope into desperate lives for so many years! Thank you for showing us how our Father feels about us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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