Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 1606 – 1669

Bathing Bathsheba (1643)

oil on panel (57 × 76 cm) — 1643 Museum Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn biography

This work is linked to 2 Samuel 11:2

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Bathsheba was the wife of one of king David's senior army officers. Here she has taken a bath and is being helped by two servants. One of them tends her toe nails, and the other combs her hair.

From the tower in the background, king David is watching. The bird to the right seems to be a peacock. In Christianity a peacock symbolizes immortality and Christ's resurrection. Here it may refer to David and Solomon (the forthcoming son of Bathsheba and David) being Christ's ancestors.

The panel has undergone some unfortunate cleaning. The woman to the right may be of African origin, but that is hard to see.

Just below Bathsheba's left knee, the marks of garters can be seen. Such realistic details are typical for Rembrandt's naturalism.

Eleven years later Rembrandt made another painting of Bathsheba.

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