Google celebrated Monday the 407th anniversary of the birth of Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), whose drawings, etchings, and paintings captured the spirit of the Dutch Golden Age and, in what may have been artistic evangelization, created hundreds of biblical scenes.
For the occasion, Google used as inspiration one of the painter's 40 self-portraits, painted in 1659. His "Self-Portrait with beret and turned up collar," along with his many scenes from the Bible, featured his most famous painting technique, chiaroscuro – "an Italian term for light and dark shading techniques," according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Unforgivingly lined and dark, the artist stands before a shadowed wall, etched with the ever-familiar "Google" name.
While early success bolstered the young Rembrandt, care and worry seem to have darkened his later years. According to the Rembrandt database, the artist was married in 1934 and his wife, Saskia, died less than a decade later, in 1642. All three of the couple's first three children died in infancy, and only their fourth child, Titus, lived to adulthood. But Saskia died soon after giving birth to Titus. And in 1656, Rembrandt essentially declared bankruptcy.
In the book Rembrandt's Faith: Church and Temple in the Dutch Golden Age, Shelley Perlove and Larry Silver argued that "Covenant Theology, the Jewish Temple, and Rembradt's own personal Christian views influenced the Dutch Master's choice of subjects and symbolism in his religious work." No personal documents relating to Rembrandt's faith have survived, but many claim the artist's surviving works feature glimpses of the gospel.
Over 300 of Rembrandt's works portray scenes from the Bible. Perhaps as a personal confession, he painted himself in "The Raising of the Cross," "Joseph Telling His Dreams," and "The Stoning of Saint Stephen."
In another work, "Self-Portrait as the Apostle Paul," Rembrandt paints himself as the Apostle Paul..
"At a period in church history and the history of art when nearly all Roman Catholic artists and many Protestant ones…painted glorified, unhistorical, and grandiose portrayals of biblical figures – Christ as 'a superman,' Mary as 'a victorious queen and the saints as heroes,' Rembrandt painted in subject and style close to the biblical records," Arthur L. Farstad, editor of the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society in Dallas, Texas, wrote.