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Hans Bloemsma 30th of March 2012
Work in Process Report on Artemisia by Rembrandt
oil on canvas (143 × 155 cm) — 1634
I have chosen this painting because of all the stories related to it. I found them very intriguing, because although the interpretations seem similar, their significance differs. Consulting the sources enumerated below, I discovered five theories concerning this painting. First interpretation of the painting suggests that the main figure is nothing more than just a portrait of Rembrandt’s wife, Saskia. Through the monumentality of the women and her expensive clothes, Rembrandt shows her importance, demanding respect. The second interpretation highlights the possibility that the main figure of the painting represents Artemis, the goddess. The story related to this interpretation is that after her beloved husband dies, she decides to drink his ashes, in order for her body to become a temple and, moreover, to have his husband with her forever. This interpretation is supported by the cup of wine that the maid kneeling in front of her is offering. Third interpretation relates to Sophonisba. She was the wife of Syphax Masinissa, but she was taken prisoner by Scipio. The later, asked her to join him and break her marriage. In order for her to avoid that, she drinks a cup of poison sent by her husband. The fourth interpretation, and the most accepted one at the moment, is that the main figure represents Judith – therefore there is a biblical subject depicted. It is thought that the painting represents Judith at the banquet of Holofernes, where she decapitated her host after she got him drunk. Last interpretation suggests that the monumental figure represented might be Cleopatra, dissolving one of her pearls in vinegar. Although I only found one source that supports this argument, I consider it an important one and further research will be made on it. Beside the dispute and intrigue on the subject matter, there is also a debate on whether this painting was made by Rembrandt or not. Because of the signature, which is considered to be ‘strange’ by some art historians, until 1986 this masterpiece was not sure if it belonged to the painter or not. The reasons for doubting are the large size of the painting, unusual subject matter and the idea that the signature might have been added later – without being known by whom. The style is the only one that assures the viewer that what they are facing is a Rembrandt.
2001. “Rembrandt or not Rembrandt?. Albert.html>. "Judith at the Banquet of Holofernes. pp. Art and the Bible." Museo Nacional Del Prado.curator of the Department of Flemish painting and Northern Schools up to 1700 She presents a photograph that shows the existence of curtains. which would suggest that it is Artemis. "Catalogue.Works Cited Adams.” Smithsonian 26. 29 Mar.Rembrandt pintor de historias. Henry. Print "Sophonisba Receiving the Poisoned Cup by Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn (1606-1669). The Museo Del Prado also offers a short video with the curator in which she explains all those symbols. Blankert.museodelprado. Madrid. Web. Museo Nacional Del Prado.php?id=3197&pm_item=727&no_cache=1&L=5 Winkel.). 2012. 2012. http://www." Rembrandt's Women. "Fashion or Fancy? Some Interpretations of the Dress of Rembrandt's Women Reevaluated. Also. <http://www. Museo Nacional del Prado. Print. the figure does not have a crown. 2012. Moreover. 110-12. Mar. Web. Williams Julia. Rembrandt or not? Reasons for doubting Demonstrated in 1986 that it is a Rembrandt There is no interpretation on the figure.es/en/visit-the-museum/15-masterpieces/workcard/obra/judith-at-the-banquet-of-holofernes/>.museodelprado. but she is recognized as being Judith. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria. cat. she supports the idea that the maid in the back holds a bag." ArtBible. "Judith at the Banquet of Holofernes. 2012. 55-63." IGuide. 1997.9 (1995): 82. which might suggest the fact that the head of her victim is going to be placed there. exp. Edinburgh: Trustess of the National Galleries of Scotland. Academic Search Elite.es/index. Print. 2011.info/art/large/703. Web." Rembrandt's Women: An Introduction to the Exhibition.artbible. She disapproves the idea that the main figure is Artemis because she is not dressed as a widow and does not seem to be in grief. Marieke De. Teresa Posada Kubissa. Teresa Posada also supports the idea that both interpretations suggest the idea of war and independence of the Dutch from the Spanish. Museo Nacional del Prado. which might suggest that the figure is presented inside a camping tent – making therefore the connection with the biblical subject of Judith. <http://www. 29 Mar. en: Alejandro Vergara (ed. London: Royal Academy of Arts. 2008. Rembrandt: A Genius and His Impact. Web.138-142. . Teresa Posada . 30 March 2012. because of the title given Lloyd.info.
In the light of this. the background curtains (visible in the early photograph) and the open book on the table allow us to put forward a new iconographic interpretation of the scene: Judith at the banquet of Holofernes.pdf 1843 – Madrazo . the type of the old servant woman. (Judith 12:1-4). both patriotic and conjugal However.%20MattiaSophonisba%20Receiving%20the%20Goblet%20af-08675. the main figure’s rich attire.museodelprado. Bauch (1966).es/fileadmin/Dossierestxt/estudioteresaposada_en. Benesch (1959). Bredius (1897). Kusnetzow (1964). Manuth (2002) and most modern authors Bode (1896). Hofstede de Groot (1907).museodelprado. It is supported by Vosmaer (1877). This interpretation is maintained in the Museo del Prado catalogue following its proposal by Pedro de Madrazo in 1843. the Corpus (1986).htm Preti Mattia Influence? http://www. speak of fidelity. the maid with the goblet.http://www.museodelprado. Golahny (2001). Slatkes (1982) and Diéguez Rodríguez (2004) back the interpretation of the figure as Sophonisb Michel 1907 – Cleopatra dissolving a pearl The large ermine collar adorning her gown (a traditional symbol of royalty). Buendía (1970 and 1985). Tümpel (1986).php?id=3197&pm_item=727&no_cache=1&L=5 named Judith website of the museum were it is http://rembrandtgallery. the canopy visible on the right in the X-ray image would represent the hangings that adorned Holofernes’s tent as described in the Bible text (Judith 10:20). the sack.artemis Vosmaer – 1877 – artemis - - - The identification of the figure as Artemisia seems more fitting in principle. Gerson (1967). the pearls (a symbol of conjugal fidelity) and the luxurious goblet held out to her justify both explanations in principle. - .es/en/the-collection/in-depth/artemisa-rembrandt/ http://www.org/painting-PRETI.es/index.
Judith at the Banquet of Holofernes. outside the banquet scene. which consists of two coats: an underlying coat of red.’ in the inventory of Charles III (1772) it is referred to as ’Ensenada – A picture showing Judith to whom some maids serve a goblet and on a round table an open book.’ a description maintained by Bayeu and Goya in the inventory of Charles IV (1794). and the second enamel blue the current black background. that is. an original by Rembran *sic. an iconographical source: an engraving by Georg Pencz. A noble matron and a maid. and on top a coat of grey the original background is concealed by two paint layers without varnish between them: the first is predominately copper pigment (azurite and black). First. was the compositional alteration due to an iconographical change or to stylistic reasons? - The second question that now arises is whether the compositional alteration was made by Rembrandt or his workshop or whether it dates from a later period the maid with the goblet and the table are painted over the ground layer. as was frequent in seventeenth-century Dutch history paintings. finally. without highlights or modelling. in fact.- Judith’s gaze and gesture appear to fittingly express her reply to the enemy general. to the Lord’s designs In fact. the book. the early photograph of the painting shows that the old woman was indeed positioned behind a curtain. appears to be a later addition dating from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century (perhaps the restoration work referred to on the label glued to the back http://books. and held a half-open sack. in the first inventory of the possessions of the Marquis of Ensenada (1754) it is listed as ’a halflength Judith.+ seven spans long and one and a half varas high. a scene for which there was. - - the X-radiograph raises two crucial questions.ro/books?id=8FFH0vMv3DYC&pg=PA276&lpg=PA276&dq=rembrandt+arte misia&source=bl&ots=i_j-lfGDPo&sig=U-gdgm7yIoHEg9IUrBQCxH4zl8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=uZt0T9HOLcLO0QWZ9ZgT&sqi=2&ved=0CFYQ6AEwCw#v=onepa ge&q=rembrandt%20artemisia&f=false Clothing . figures of more than half length. would be an allusion to the Bible and. featuring a goblet on the table and a maid holding a receptacle sitting at the entrance to the tent. by extension.google.’ The second inventory (1768) Mengs describes it as ’Rembrandt.
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