Belshazzar’s Feast by Rembrandt

Belshazzar’s Feast
Baroque, Dutch Golden Age
Oil on canvas
National Gallery, London, England

As the King of Babylon, Belshazzar’s story is told in the Old Testament. His sacrilege of having gold and silver vessels looted by his father from the Temple in Jerusalem for his own use. He ordered the vessels be filled with his wine for his guests at a great banquet when a disembodied hand appeared from a small cloud, inscribing symbols on the wall. These symbols were translated by the prophet Daniel as god’s message of Belshazzar’s downfall. Rembrandt painted this work to prove himself a master of large-scale Baroque history paintings. He concentrated on the shock of physical force and the scene is a study of action, fear, and surprise. Each figure is depicted recoiling dramatically with illusionistic effects and composition to involve the viewer in the scene.

Baroque, Dutch Golden Age
Born: 15 July 1606, Leiden, Netherlands
Nationality: Dutch
Died: 4 October 1669, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Rembrandt’s life and work were fuelled by an intense psychological study of people, objects, and their surroundings and a strong Christian devotion. Incredibly gifted, Rembrandt became a master of portraiture, historical, mythological, and biblical sense from an incredibly early age. His techniques and use of materials were sensitive and spontaneous. His everchanging approach to colour, composition, and shadow produced powerfully moving and natural moments of the human existence. His mastery of light and texture emphasized emotional depth weaved a common theme through all his work confirming his status as one of art’s greatest and innovative masters

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