Genre: Oil on canvas
- Winkler, Mary
- Date of entry: Jan-25-1999
Rembrandt painted this interpretation of the story of David and Bathsheba in II Samuel: 11 in 1654. Although the Biblical narrative focuses on David and his relation to his people and his God, Rembrandt focuses on Bathsheba and her quandary. Rembrandt conflated two parts of the narrative to convey his message. Bathsheba is simultaneously completing her bath and contemplating David's summons--the summons that will lead to tragedy.
Many critics, particularly feminist critics, have commented on the role of the female nude in western art, noting that it is rare to find a representation of a nude woman that renders the woman as a whole person. Rembrandt's Bathsheba is beautiful and haunting--in part because she is a woman thinking. In The Nude, Kenneth Clark paid tribute to this work: "[Bathsheba] is one of those supreme works of art which cannot be forced into any classification . . . Rembrandt can give his Bathsheba an expression of reverie so complex that we follow her thoughts far beyond the moment depicted: and yet these thoughts are indissolubly part of her body, which speaks to us in its own language as truthfully as Chaucer or Burns" (p. 342).
The Louvre, Paris