Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 1606 – 1669

The rich fool

oil on panel (32 × 42 cm) — 1627 Museum Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen, Berlin

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn biography

This work is linked to Luke 12:20

Tags: Parable

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Rembrandt illustrates the parable of the rich fool, as told in Luke 12. At night a rich man studies one of his golden coins.

In the early 17th century a stack of books was often used as a symbol of vanity. The Hebrew letters suggest a biblical setting.

The usual interpretation of the parable is that there is no point in spending a life gathering wealth. After all, onced you die money is of no use. It might even get into the hands of people who do not deserve it. It is therefore thought to be wiser to be "rich toward God".

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