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Essay on Rembrandt and the Nude

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Rembrandt van Rijn was a Dutch artist well known for his many paintings and etchings of landscapes, figures and animals. His subjects included biblical, secular and mythological scenes. Rembrandt also dabbled in the nude even though they were not popular among his contemporaries. Rembrandt’s nudes were his interpretation of the real human body. He painted every wrinkle and every fold of the body. Rembrandt’s nudes were not considered ugly and grotesque. His nudes were unlike the Greek goddesses his colleagues would portray. There has been some debate and questions as to whether or not Rembrandt used the most important women in his life as models for his nude masterpieces. The most important women in his life were his wife Saskia, his son's nursemaid, Geertje Dircks, and his common-law wife and mother of his daughter, Hendrickje Stoffels. Rembrandt would not use the women in his life as models for his nude paintings because at this time posing in the nude was considered immoral and he would not have compromised them. Despite this some evidence suggest that he did use Hendrickje as a model in a nude portrait.
Danaë, 1636
Rembrandt’s Danaë 1636 is considered the most impressive nude to be found in 17th-century history painting by many art historians. It is painted on a large scale but much more intimate in character than the Blinding of Samson where Rembrandt abandoned his dramatic style. The character Danaë who is depicted in the painting is the mother of Perseus from Greek mythology. It is presumed in the painting that she is welcoming Zeus into her bedroom where he impregnates her in the form of a shower of gold. This painting’s figure is palpable lifelike and exudes a great sensuality unlike any other nude painting in the ea...


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...very day life as nudes for his portrait. First, he would not have depicted the women in his life that could be easily recognized by people. But most importantly, it is unlikely that Rembrandt would use the women in his life as models for his nude paintings because during this time period posing nude was immoral.






Works Cited

B. P. J. Broos, et al. "Rembrandt van Rijn." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. 9 Feb. 2011 .
Sluijter, Eric Jan. Rembrandt and the Female Nude. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2006. Print. (pg. 221-222)
Sluijter, Eric Jan. Rembrandt and the Female Nude. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2006. Print. (pg. 113-115)
"Bathsheba at Her Bath – Rembrandt Harmensz. VAN RIJN, Known as REMBRANDT – Paintings | Louvre Museum." Site Officiel Du Musée Du Louvre. Web. 10 Feb. 2011.



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