Rembrandt "The Return of the Prodigal Son." History of the painting

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn died in October 1669 when he was 63 years old. He was old, sick and poor. The notary did not have to spend a lot of time compiling an inventory of the artist's property. The inventory was brief: "three shabby sweatshirts, eight handkerchiefs, ten berets, painting supplies, one Bible."

The life of the peasant Rembrandt van Rijn, who was raised above his origin by his genius, can be compared to the changeable sea element. It contained triumph and greatness, fame and wealth, true love and colossal debts, persecution, bankruptcy, contempt, poverty.

Harmenszoon van Rijn Rembrandt (Dutch. Harmenszoon van Rijn Rembrandt) was born on July 15, 1606 and was the eighth of nine children in a miller's family. Rembrandt attended the Latin school at Leiden University, but showed the greatest interest in painting. At the age of 13, he was sent to study fine arts under the Leiden historical painter Jacob van Swanenburch. Then, after a short stay at Leiden University, Rembrandt devoted himself entirely to art. Already his early works demonstrate the outstanding talent of the artist - "Palamede before Agamemnon" (1626), "The Baptism of the Eunuch" (1626), "The Stoning of St. Stephen "(1629).

Fantastic technique, expressive and sharp language of canvases conquered contemporaries. Rembrandt is an innovator. It is no coincidence that he had many students, admirers, and even more envious people. His authority was indisputable during the heyday of creativity and turned into nothing by the wild envy of his colleagues after the ruin of the Amsterdam painter. Of course, changeable fashion played an important role here. Many of his apprentices, having risen to their feet, turned away from Rembrandt and contemptuously called him "the old sorcerer."

Lonely, surviving the death of two beloved women, a dear son, a daughter-in-law, abandoned by his students, mocked by society, not remembering himself in the last year of his life, he is immersed in work as he was at the time of his glory.

For Rembrandt, painting has always been a different, otherworldly world, in which only thought and word can exist. And his work is a long and deep reflection. Including over the Bible. Rembrandt's handbook. The biblical plot has always interested the artist, as if he found for himself in this not only a theme for painting, but also consolation for a rushing soul.

At first, these were small-format etchings (metal engravings - ed.) On gospel subjects, in which the artist experimented with light and shadow. They could be both sketches of future paintings and independent works. By the way, Rembrandt's prints were incredibly popular with customers and art connoisseurs. The engravings made using the dry brush technique (the drawing is scratched with a hard needle directly on a metal board, and not on a layer of acid-resistant varnish, as in etching) were bought with pleasure (the most famous "Christ Healed the Sick", "Behold the Man", "Christ at Emmaus ") and brought Rembrandt a serious income. This is also surprising because in the then Protestant Holland, paintings with a religious plot were no longer popular. Rembrandt was almost the only Dutch painter who turned to the key subjects of Scripture. Of course, not only in etchings, in large canvases as well.

"The Return of the Prodigal Son"

The famous painting "The Return of the Prodigal Son", one of the last works of Rembrandt. It was written in the year of his death, and became the pinnacle of the manifestation of his talent. And what else could Rembrandt write besides the theme, which sounded like a refrain all his life?

We find the parable of the prodigal son in the Gospel of Luke. She tells about a young man who left his father's house and squandered his inheritance. In idleness, debauchery and drunkenness, he spent his days until he found himself in the barnyard, where he ate from the same trough with pigs. In a desperate situation and complete poverty, the young man returns to his father, ready to become his last slave. But instead of contempt, he finds a royal reception, instead of anger - an all-forgiving, deep and tender fatherly love.

At least three times in his life, Rembrandt refers to the parable of the prodigal son. For the first time, in 1633, in the canvas "Self-portrait with Saskia on her knees." The picture was painted by Rembrandt at a happy time for him. He just married the mayor's daughter Saskia van Eilenbürch, whom he loved very much. And this was their first and last (apart from drawings) joint portrait. The picture shows a smartly dressed girl, young and beautiful. At that time, she behaves rather frivolously, because she sits on the lap of a young man who hugged her flexible body. The young man is a dandy, a careless dandy in a velvet jacket, in a hat with a huge ostrich feather. He is cheerful and pleased with himself: the attention of a lady belongs to him, a glass of sparkling wine is in his hands, a hearty dinner is set on a richly furnished table. In a carefree pastime, in joy, in the rapture of life and human happiness, Rembrandt portrayed himself and his beloved.

True, in the upper left corner of the canvas we see a slate board. Such boards were usually hung in taverns and the price of what was drunk and eaten was recorded on them. Was it a hint to the viewer that everything in life would have to be paid for or simply the composition of the picture required a spot in the corner. Before contemporaries, the picture, in which the audience recognized the young spouses, appeared with the title "Prodigal Son in a Tavern" ("Feast of the Prodigal Son"). This name sounded both proud self-irony and the rebelliousness of a young artist who challenged the prim Dutch burghers. However, he was not understood. The portrait genre was popular among the rich in Amsterdam, and another painting by Rembrandt made him even more famous and expanded the circle of customers.

In 1636, Rembrandt created the etching The Prodigal Son. The hand of the master builds the space: gives a landscape with a hint, depicts secondary characters without unnecessary details and focuses all attention on the two main characters - father and son. In the kneeling figure of a ragamuffin who pressed his cheek to his father's dressing gown, in his face, exhausted by trials and overgrown with hair, in his almost limp hands and convulsively twisted fingers, remorse is visible. And in a father hurrying to his son so that even a shoe flies off his foot and a cane rolls down the steps, in his eyebrows shifted from bitterness, we read only love. True and ardent love of a transferred heart.

The tragedy of the artist - "Die several times"

The harbor of Amsterdam was teeming with merchant ships, over which the flags of various states flew. Rembrandt came here often because he was a passionate collector. He bought everything: paintings, drawings, lace, silk, brocade, velvet, weapons, shells, vases, musical instruments - everything that seemed beautiful, incredible, unique to him. I watched, inhaled, remembered and embodied all this in my paintings. He has never been abroad, has never seen the masters of Italy. He believed that all this was of no use to him, because he had his own impressions and collection. And the Rembrandt collection was really great. What is one folder of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings, which he bought either in the Amsterdam port, or at an auction, or exchanged for a hundred guilders for his own etching from a painting dealer.

And now he is deprived of what he valued. The collection was stolen by the vultures by the creditors. It remains only to keep what you have seen in your memory. Death took him to Hendrickje, a faithful servant who became his wife and mother to the orphan Titus (son from his first marriage with Saskia) ... his Hendrickje, who did not abandon Rembrandt (he could not marry her, as he would have deprived his son of the inheritance of his own mother) and for this she was excommunicated. Consumption struck his beloved son Titus, the only one who was spiritually close to him. Looming glory took away the last disciple of Aart de Gelder, the "squire of the old king." Madness and despair killed the young daughter-in-law, who had lived with her husband for only seven months.

From all these losses, Rembrandt seemed to be numb. Misfortune discouraged, stunned, and wounded the old man. The disease did not allow him to hold the brush, and he tied it to his hand, or took a palette knife. His eyes refused to see, and he armed himself with a magnifying glass. He continued to create, as if painting for him was a life-giving source from which he could not get drunk.

1669 year. Rembrandt plays a human drama in front of the viewer. The paints lie on the canvas in thick strokes. They are dark. The artist does not care about secondary characters, even if there are a lot of them. Attention is again riveted on the father and son. The old father, hunched over with grief, faces the viewer. In this face there is pain, and eyes tired of crying out tears, and the happiness of a long-awaited meeting. The son has his back turned to us. He buried himself as a child in the royal robe of his father. We don't know what his face expresses. But cracked heels, a vagrant's bare skull, poor attire say enough. As well as the hands of the father, squeezing the shoulders of the young man. Through the peace of these hands, forgiving and supporting, Rembrandt for the last time tells the world a universal parable about wealth, passions and vices, repentance and forgiveness. “… I will get up, go to my father and say to him: Father! I have sinned against heaven and before you, and am no longer worthy to be called your son; accept me as your mercenary. He got up and went to his father. And while he was still far away, his father saw him and took pity; and running, fell on his neck and kissed him. " (Luke 15: 18-21).

Much later, Van Gogh said very accurately about Rembrandt: “You have to die several times in order to paint like this ... Rembrandt penetrates the secret so deeply that he speaks about objects for which there are no words in any language. That is why Rembrandt is called: a magician. And this is not an easy craft. "