Analysis Of Remembrandt

1719 words - 7 pages

The story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife is told in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, chapter 39. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and bought by Potiphar, a high ranking official in the Pharaoh's service. "The Lord was with Joseph," and gave him success in everything he did. This pleased Potiphar and before long Joseph was given the highest position in the household, and left in charge when Potiphar was away. Now Potiphar's wife found Joseph to be very good looking and had approached him several times saying "come to bed with me;" and Joseph being a man of God would not sin against his master or the Lord, so he refused her. One day when all the servants were gone, Jos ...view middle of the document...

After conducting research, my first perceptions about the value, or relative degree of lightness or darkness, in the painting did not change, but instead I learned that Rembrandt's use of light and dark was both purposeful and a technique well-known to the artists of his time. When I first observed this painting, I thought how dark everything seemed. The only exceptions to the darkness are the bed and Potiphar's wife, both of which are flooded in light almost as if a spotlight were thrown on her and the bed. Some light shines on Joseph's face and from behind him like a halo around his body, but this light is very dim. Potiphar in great contrast to his wife is almost in complete darkness. I first felt there should be more light from perhaps candles to cast the entire room in partial light. But after research I found that "Rembrandt liked strong contrasts of light and dark and used them in his paintings all his life, letting darkness hide unnecessary details while using light to bring figures and objects out from the shadows. The high contrast of light against dark changed an ordinary scene into a dramatic one ... the Italian word for this use of light and dark [is] chiaroscuro " (Muhlberger 9). Rembrandt must have believed that too much detail in the room would have obscured the primary players of this scene. He uses light to brightly illuminate the most important person in this painting, Potiphar's wife. In descending order of importance, Rembrandt places a glow around Joseph and casts Potiphar in a almost total darkness. I now am able to see how the contrast of light and dark demonstrates drastically this crucial turning point in Joseph's life. The fact that an Italian word exists for Rembrandt's lighting technique only proves the technique's establishment in the art world he lived and worked in.As a result of research, my fist perceptions about the presence of infinite space in the painting did not change, but instead I gained an understanding of why Rembrandt employed this particular technique in his painting. I first noticed before conducting any research on Rembrandt or this painting how the walls appear to go on indefinitely; there are no boundaries to the room. In addition the artist chose not to add and details to the walls or floor. I believe that the design element of infinite space, endless space as found in nature, best describes this technique. Upon conducting my research I found that, according to Richard Muhlberger, "Rembrandt learned to lavish attention on small parts of a painting, leaving the rest without much detail. He knew that details look more impressive surrounded by areas that are plain; they are harder to notice when they cover the entire surface of a painting" (16). Obviously in this painting of Joseph Accused by Potiphar's Wife, Rembrandt's purpose in using the design element of infinite space is to attract the audience to the characters in this story and not so much their surroundings, with the exception, perhaps,...

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