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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn: Simeon's Song of Praise (1669)

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 1606 – 1669

Simeon's Song of Praise (1669)

oil on canvas (99 × 80 cm) — 1669 Museum Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn biography

This work is linked to Luke 2:25

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Simeon is sincerely happy that he, as an old man who is about to die, may hold the future Messias in his arms. The child's parents had taken their son to temple to have him blessed and to bring sacrifices. The Holy Spirit had led Simeon to the temple.

The subject must have fascinated Rembrandt, because he made at least two paintings and several drawings about it. This painting focuses entirely on Simeon's emotion and leaves out almost all other figures. There also is no reference to the place of action. The contrast with his great 1631 painting could hardly be stronger.

This may very well have been Rembrandt's last painting. It was found unfinished in his workshop the day after he died. The woman in the background was probably added afterwards by someone else. Some think she is Maria, others say she must be the prophetess Anna.

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Title: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn: Simeon's Song of Praise (1669)
Author / citation: here
First published: 27 September 2005
Last modified: 26 January 2009