Rembrandt van Rijn: Simeon in the Temple (1631)

(Mauritshuis, The Hague, The Netherlands)

This magnificent painting gives a good example of the handling of light by Rembrandt. Subject of the painting is Luke 2:25–35. Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus went to the Temple to present their new child. According to the story, an old man called Simeon had been visited by the Holy Spirit and was told that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ. When Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus entered the temple, Simeon immediately recognized Jesus as new Messiah. He took Jesus in his arms and praised the child and God. Rembrandt shows us this event taking place.  Simeon has Jesus in his arms and Mary and Joseph are looking at both of them. The only source of light in the painting come from the baby Jesus himself. This light of Jesus is a reference to Luke 2: 32 which says that Jesus will be 'a light for revelation to the Gentiles'. Rembrandt was only 25 when he painted this in 1631.

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