Monday, March 2, 2009

Rembrandt van Rijn

Storm on the Sea of Galilee. This painting by the immortal Rembrandt illustrates a moment in the biblical story of Jesus crossing the Sea of Galilee during a storm that threatens to destroy the boat. In the story, the apostles are scared for their lives, even though they are accompanied by their teacher who proclaims he is the Son of God. It is a story of faith. Rembrandts treatment of the story is decidedly accurate compared to the narrative. We have a boat, with 13 people on it in a storm, one being relaxed, reclining on deck and the others acting in a frantic manner. Rembrandt begins there. Then he uses a number of compositional tools that have been discussed in earlier posts, including setting the boat so that the mast bisects the picture plane on a diagonal which creates drama. He uses contrasting value between the waves on the sea and the darker values of the boat to setup drama. The boat itself is situated in an opposing diagonal giving the feel as if all the passenger will fall out into the water. Rembrandt uses a dark value at the bottom of the painting to lend weight to the scene and the stability it creates contrasts the instability of the boat. One point to note is that the rigging leads the eye towards the top right corner, but the strategically placed snapped rigging line draws your eye back into the image leading it back towards the image of Christ. This is a favorite of mine, so much so that I have a reproduction of it hanging on my wall painted by a fellow art student named Darryl McGuinness.

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