12 de abril de 2011

Rembrandt van Rijn - Self-portrait with Saskia

Self-portrait with Saskia - 1635
Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister - Dresden
I find this a delightful painting. It’s a portrayal of an utter happiness; it cheerfully expresses Rembrandt van Rijn 's joy in his marriage. He holds Saskia on his knee and raises a glass to us. Funny is that Saskia’s expression betrays a certain embarrassment at the rather vulgar laughter of her husband. Rembrandt met the twenty-year-old Saskia at the home of Hendrick van Uylenburch, his associate and dealer. She was a close relative of van Uylenburch. On the dead of her father, who had been burgomaster of Leeuwarden, she had left the province of Friesland in order to settle in Amsterdam. A love affair developed between the young artist and the cultured, florid, and rather timid girl. Saskia and Rembrandt, defying the guarded reaction from her tutor and relatives, became officially engaged on June 5, 1633. Arrangements for the marriage were made, with Rembrandt’s mother dithering for a long time before giving her consent. Finally on July 22, 1634, Rembrandt and Saskia, were married, having chosen to return to Saskia’s native Friesland for the wedding. Rembrandt and Saskia enjoyed a mutually affectionate relationship, based on imagination, fun, and sensual fulfillment. Thanks to his successful marriage and consistently high fees he earned as a painter and engraver, Rembrandt became a wealthy man almost overnight, on a par with highly respected professionals and members of high society. In 1635, at the age of 29, he was able to move to an elegant dwelling on the banks of the Amstel. For Rembrandt, a miller’s son, the marriage also involved a considerable rise in his social status. Soon he would become famous at the Court at The Hague. He was thus to receive many aristocratic commissions, although the fees were not always settled promptly. Regarding this happy painting some critics have seen this happy couple as also a parable of the prodigal son, who squandered his father’s fortune on improper revelry. However the genuine happiness expressed by the painting seems to contradict any possible intention to moralize.
Source: Stefano Zuffi - The Great Dutch Master 

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