rembrandt the raising of lazarus
Rembrandt painted The Raising of Lazarus early in his career, while he was still in Leiden, and not long after his apprenticeship under Pieter Lastman, whose influence is clear. Rembrandt made two etchings on the same subject but with differing compositions, one in approximately 1632 and another in 1642 (see gallery below). The 1632 etching shows a different point of view while the 1642 etching shows different figures in the cave. The 1642 etching also depicts Christ as more of a healer, rather than the enchanter of this work. (Sister Wendy Beckett opines that Jesus is portrayed in this work as a weary magician rather than a triumphant savior.) The subject of this painting may draw on an undated Jan Lievens etching of the same name. Lievens and Rembrandt were friends and probably worked together.  The composition of the painting may derive from a drawing by Rembrandt from the same time as the Burial of Christ. Rembrandt would most closely imitate Raising of Lazarus with his 1635/1639 painting The Resurrection. The placement of the figures is similar and a study of drawings indicates that the latter was developed from the former.
Raising of Lazarus was owned by Rembrandt for most of his life; it was sold in his bankruptcy sale in 1656.  It was inventoried as being hung in Rembrandt’s anteroom. The painting passed through various owners in Europe until it was bought by Howard F. Ahmanson, Sr. in 1959 and then donated to the LA County Museum of Art.
Rembrandt painted and drew many stories and parables of the Bible as recognizable and familiar images. The Dutch Reformed Calvinism at Rembrandt’s time forbade religious art in churches. Thus there were limited public commissions for paintings of biblical subjects. Fortunately, private patronage for them thrived, and Rembrandt tapped into this demand.
Copies of previous masters by Vincent van Gogh form a distinguished group of paintings created by Vincent van Gogh between 1887 and early 1890. While at Saint-Paul asylum, where Van Gogh admitted himself, he explored famous works from renowned artists. Van Gogh created over 30 artworks that were copies inspired by some of his favorite artists. However, rather than replicate, Van Gogh sought to translate the subjects and composition through his unique perspective of color and technique.
About the Framing:
Created in c.1632, this original etching is signed in the plate by Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt (Leiden, 1606 – Amsterda, 1669), ‘RHL van Ryn f.’ According to Nowell-Usticke, a VIII (of X) impression.
And then Rembrandt had the gift of compassion, not arising from any sentimentality on his part, but from a willed imitation of Christ offering the greatest proof of love. He was convinced of this truth: that the ultimate goal of the power of evil is to put love to death. And it has the means to do so.
Most significant in this canvas is the play of chiaroscuro: the light that rends the shadows, the love that routs evil more powerfully than suffering suffuses the flesh, life that ultimately triumphs over death. An intense ray of light flowing from the center left casts an oblique beam into the midst of the scene before striking the tomb of Lazarus. Those present at the miracle—the backlit Martha, Mary in full light, and the Jewish dignitaries—are spellbound. The figure of the Lord forms the vertical axis dividing the composition: a Jesus of human visage, still grief-stricken, but a Christ of superhuman stature. Twice the height of the other figures, his right hand masterfully raised, with the power of God he commands his friend to rise.
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