Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

David and Jonathan

David and Jonathan
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
Painting, Oil on panel, 73x61.5 cm
Origin: Holland, 1642

The subject is taken from the First Book of Samuel . David was close friends with the son of King Saul, Prince Jonathan, who gave him valuable presents of clothes and weapons. Saul, who suspected David of pretensions to the royal throne, sought to kill him, but when Jonathan learned of his father's intention, he warned his friend of the danger and advised him to run away. David found shelter by the stone Ezel, where their last meeting took place.

Following the Old Testament text, Rembrandt shows David pressing his friend to his chest and weeping uncontrolledly: "and they kissed one another, and wept with one another, until David exceeded." The young David cannot contain his grief, while Jonathan's more mature years enable him to keep back the tears, although his face expresses the deepest sorrow.

The theme of love and suffering which lies at the heart of the biblical story is captured with amazing force in the painting.

Personage: David
Source of entry: Monplaisir Palace, Peterhof, 1882
Theme: The Bible and Christianity
Exibition: Dutch art: 17th century

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