Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 1606 – 1669

Saul and David (1655-1660)

oil on canvas (130 × 164 cm) — 1655 - 1660 Museum Mauritshuis, The Hague

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn biography

This work is linked to 1 Samuel 18:10

Tags: David | Saul

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David has beaten the Philistines and is returning to the court of King Saul. The superstitious king considers David a threat to his already weakened position. We see him trying to think of a way to get rid of the young hero. At the same, he is moved by David's harp playing - Saul dries his eyes with a curtain.

The people would probably rise against him if he were to kill David. The spear in his hand is useless, although in a flash of anger he does try to kill David with it. So he promotes David to "captain over a thousand", hoping he will die in battle.

In Rembrandt's painting, the old suffering king is clearly touched by David's playing. David is completely absorbed in his music.

It is a much more melancholic and touching interpretation than his earlier rendition of the same episode, which Rembrandt created in 1630.

The attribution to Rembrandt was a point of discussion until it was confirmed by an international team of experts in 2015.

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