In 1914 Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who would later become the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the State of Israel, visited the National Gallery in London. His aesthetic sensibilities were aroused by the artistic grandeur, which he encountered there. He was particularly transfixed by Rembrandt's paintings:
Rembrandt van Rijn, the master of chiaroscuro, infused his portraits with a transcendental vitality. While this is true of all of his portraits it is certainly the case with his paintings of biblical scenes.
Rembrandt's penchant for the Bible is reflected in the number of biblical portraits, etchings and drawings which he created. In the field of portraiture in general, Rembrandt left four hundred paintings, seventy-five etchings, and only a few drawings. This may be contrasted with the one hundred and sixty painting, eighty etchings and more than six hundred drawing of biblical subjects that have come down to us.
Rembrandt's prodigious activity in this field reflects his love of and intimate knowledge of the Bible. Rembrandt's biblical scenes are not merely an exercise in historical painting, they contain his own and passion and intensity as well as a remarkable degree of his innovative biblical interpretation.Bibliography >>
Commisioned by George S.Blumental
and the Center for Online Judaic Studies
Created by Dr. Bryna Jocheved Levy @ 2002