For those who care to know about Rembrandt's intentions in painting what he did, this particular picture does NOT represent a "philosopher in meditation." The real subject is "Tobit and Anna" (waiting for the return of their son, Tobias), from the Old Testament "Book of Tobit" (sometimes considered apocryphal) This changes the implications of this scene quite a bit. The interpretation of the old man as a "philosopher" dates from 18th-century France, when this subject was popular (remember the "Enlightenment"?). The interesting thing is that, already in the 17th century, this painting by Rembrandt probably contributed to codifying and popularizing depictions of meditating or reading scholars. I know this because I have studied this picture for decades and published several articles on it, including for the Louvre. The Rembrandt Research Project canned it in 1986, but regretted doing this (I have this personally from Dr. Ernst van de Wetering, the head of the RRP), and I am seeing to it that they publish a revised opinion.
Philosopher_1632_true subject Posted by Jean-Marie Clarke on 21.March 2011, 10:51