the raising of lazarus rembrandt
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.
The painting shows the moment Lazarus re-awakens from death and rises from his tomb as Christ calls him. Lazarus is in the darker half of the painting while the figures at left are far more illuminated than he. Mary and those assembled look on in amazement as Lazarus comes to life. The painting depicts a parable of spiritual life, the miracle of the hardened sinner receiving first grace (sorrow for sins committed in order to seek penitence and redemption).  Rembrandt used chiaroscuro (contrasts of light and dark) in this painting, with the dark interior of the burial cave and the limited torchlight focusing the attention of the viewer and giving the figures impact. This is one of relatively few religious subjects from the New Testament that Rembrandt painted, though there are many such prints.
“The Raising of Lazarus” etching by Rembrandt – 1642 from the Rijksmuseum Museum
Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853 – 1890) is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime and was considered a madman and a failure. He created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life. They were characterized by bold colors and dramatic, impulsive, and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art.
Following the Biblical tale from the New Testament, Rembrandt The Raising of Lazarus, c. 1632 dramatically captures the moment in which Lazarus rises from the grave. Rembrandt utilizes light and shadow to highlight Lazarus’ resurrection, illuminating Lazarus’ grave with a stream of white light. However, the centrally located Christ, shrouded partially in shadow, remains the focal point of the composition. Christ appears as a massive figure worthy of awe and admiration. He turns his back to the viewer, denying a clear view of his face, and raises his hand in a gesture of holiness as the surrounding figures draw back and open their eyes in wonderment and disbelief at the miraculous sight before them.
About the Framing:
The Raising of Lazarus is described in the Gospel of John, Chapter 11 and is a significant item in the Christian religion. Rembrandt took in several bibical stories across his career and also use them in a variety of mediums, besides just the oil on canvas found here.
There were several etchings by Rembrandt which addressed the same topic, but with different compositions. The last one of these came as late as 1642, a good decade after this painting. This work was produced whilst he still lived in Leiden, prior to his move to the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. The early influences from his teachings are more visible here than in later paintings.
For in its malevolent design, evil assuredly and tragically triumphs over all man’s efforts to bring love alive and sustain it even to our own Calvary. Except for this one man, whom the Gospel of John describes as the most human of men, the close friend of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary; maybe an all-too-human man who cried salty tears over his friend: See how he loved him! the people exclaimed. A man so human he weeps before the pain of those who remain behind—a pain Rembrandt knew only too well after watching his mother, his father, his children, his wife, and his friends horribly crushed by illness before being snatched up by the jaws of death. Yes, the power of evil always triumphs—except that this man who weeps, suddenly says: I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live. And Rembrandt, who had lost so many loved ones, believes in him.
Gift of H. F. Ahmanson and Company, in memory of Howard F. Ahmanson | Rembrandt | Public Domain Detail from “The Raising of Lazarus” (v. 1630–1632), Rembrandt (1606-1669), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA, USA.