• Haman Recognizes His Fate

    Artist:
    Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn. 1606-1669
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    127x116 cm

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn. 1606-1669

Haman Recognizes His Fate

Holland, circa 1665

The last two decades of Rembrandt’s life were the time of his greatest achievements as an artist and of profound human insights. The theme of Fate runs through all his works. This 1665 work is also devoted to it, although its exact subject remains a matter of debate between specialists. Some see in it the biblical story of the courtier Haman, who was executed after his misdeeds were revealed by Esther to her husband the king. Others insist that the figure in the painting is the military commander Uriah being sent to his certain death by King David, who was in love with his wife Bathsheba. This event is described in the Second Book of Samuel. Such differences of interpretation are entirely explicable. Rembrandt’s late biblical paintings are devoid of outward action and extremely concise. The artist was interested in the personages’ emotions, their innermost thoughts and feelings, and not in the depiction of attributes that make it possible to identify the subject easily. The main thing in the Hermitage painting is the state of a doomed man going consciously to his death. He is outwardly restrained, but is betrayed by his unsteady gait, the gesture of the hand pressed to his chest, the deep shadow flitting across his face and perhaps, more than anything by the boiling, as it were exploding, red colour of his clothing. The king’s sad hesitation and the elderly witness’s grief intensify the psychological multiplicity of meaning in the scene. Inevitably the image of the central figure going to his death is associated with the artist himself. Life sent him a host of trials: poverty, sickness, the death of his beloved son… Without entertaining illusions about what awaited him, Rembrandt kept painting pictures until his final days.

Title:

Haman Recognizes His Fate

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

127x116 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1773; acquired from the collection of Blackwood in London

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-752

Category:

Collection:

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