375 Another third poem on Rembrandt Jews

Did Rembrandt have more sympathy for Jews and Judaism than most of his contemporaries? This has long been taken for granted, and his paintings of Old Testament subjects and portraits of Jews have been discussed in this light. Since 1984, Schwartz has been questioning this assumption. Here he presents new evidence that Rembrandt cooperated in attaching anti-Semitic meaning to his work.

On March 25, 2006 I published a column that has led to some controversy, controversy to which I now hope to put an end. The abstract reads thus:

A friend of Rembrandt’s wrote four poems on The hundred-guilder print. Only two of them, sweet thoughts on the goodness of Christ, are cited in the literature. The third one, a concise statement of classical Christian anti-Judaism, has been repressed in the Rembrandt literature. Schwartz insists that we acknowledge that Rembrandt shared the same attitudes toward the Jews of all his contemporaries and that he was not sympathetic to Judaism.

The impression of the immortal Hundred-guilder print on which the poem was penned is in the Bibliothèque de France.

Rembrandt, Christ among the sick, allowing the children to come to him:
“The hundred-guilder print,” ca. 1649. Bartsch 74 ii(2), 27.8 x 38.8 cm
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France. Impression on a larger sheet of paper, with handwritten poems by H.F. Waterloos

The third poem reads thus, in extended translation:

The Messiah performed a thousand miracles for the benefit and salvation of the Jews. He did this out of goodness, in a very different spirit than the vengeance of the God worshipped by the Jews. How did they respond? Alas, by crucifying the one who was sent to them, God’s son. The blood of the innocent Lord remains on their hands. By killing him they forfeited the right to be called his people. We Christians are now the people of God, not the Jews.

The poet who wrote always signed his work H. F. Waterloos (d. 1664); in the literature he is sometimes called Herman Frederik, sometimes Hendrick Frederik. He was a pious man who according to his fellow poet Jan Vos sometimes drank too much, and who as a ziekentrooster (comforter of the sick) served the spiritual and psychological needs of the ailing.

Esteemed colleagues have taken issue with my assumption that the poem reflects Rembrandt’s attitude toward the Jews. Lloyd De Witt dismisses the link in these words: “… there is no evidence that Rembrandt knew Waterloos, as Schwartz suggests.” There is in fact more than sufficient evidence to prove that Rembrandt knew Waterloos. In a volume of poetry published in 1660, Hollantsche Parnas, Rembrandt’s lifelong friend Jeremias de Decker dedicated to Waterloos a poem on a Rembrandt painting of Christ appearing to the Magdalene (a subject painted by Rembrandt in 1638 and 1651), and Waterloos a poem on a drawn or painted portrait of de Decker by Rembrandt.

Hollantsche Parnas, of verscheide gedichten…, ed. T.v. Domselaer, eerste deel
Amsterdam (Jacob Lescaille) 1660

The poem is actually addressed by Waterloos to Rembrandt, and closes with the stereotypical but nonetheless personal sentiment:

And so my verse lives in your comely painting,
And your draftsmanship through my poetry.

Entwined personal links of this kind, between Waterloos, de Decker and Rembrandt (Jeremias’s brother David de Decker is also in this circle), are at the very heart of friendship ties in Rembrandt’s world. Lloyd De Witt was I am afraid so unwilling to believe that Rembrandt would have shared the anti-Judaism of his contemporaries that he uncharacteristically averted his gaze from the historical record.

Stephanie Dickey, who has done more and more penetrating research than anyone on Waterloos, has better founded objections:

In his recent monograph on Rembrandt [Rembrandt’s universe, 2006, where I further expanded on the column; GS], Gary Schwartz imputes anti-Semitic sentiment to a passage of the poem in which Waterloos contrasts the Pharisees’ cruel treatment of Jesus with the adoration felt for him by modern Christians. According to Schwartz, this suggests that Rembrandt himself expressed anti-Semitic views in the print. However, Waterloos’ poem was never engraved on Rembrandt’s copperplate. It is one of a number of highly personal responses to Rembrandt’s work, responses whose nature and form were outside the artist’s control. Whether Rembrandt knew that his imagery would provoke such a response remains moot.

To say that I “impute” anti-Semitic sentiment to a poem with the lines “The blood of the innocent Lord remains on their hands. By killing him they forfeited the right to be called his people” does not seem to me the mot juste. As the following line makes clearer – “We Christians are now the people of God, not the Jews” – what we have is an expression not of adoration for Jesus but of replacement theology, a conviction that the Jews disqualified themselves from salvation, making way for Christians to take their place in the grace of God. I understand that it is difficult for an ethical Christian to accept the belief that the salvation of Christians depends on the self-degradation of the Jews, but that is what is said in the poem.

Dickey’s following argument, I must admit, I long found difficult to refute. Indeed, the plate of the Hundred-guilder print leaves no room below the image for further inscriptions. However, I have now come across an explanation for the writing and form of the poem in relation to the image that accounts for this seeming discrepancy. It also shows that the poem was not written as a personal response at all, but was intended for publication. It also makes Rembrandt’s involvement in the writing of Waterloos’s poem less moot. Moreover, and sadly so, the evidence on which it is based includes another poem on a New Testament Rembrandt etching that is even more virulently anti-Semitic than the one on the Hundred-guilder print.

The Hundred-guilder print was completed in 1649. In 1650 a new medium for the publishing of Biblical prints came into being in which images by Rembrandt played a role from the start. This was the phenomenon of the Bible shot through with royal-size prints. Royal size was a paper format of about 40-50 centimeters high by 50-60 wide. Prints of this kind lent themselves to various uses, one of them being insertion in a States Bible in folio format. The earliest known example of the kind is a Bible printed by Theunis Jacobsz Lootsman in Amsterdam in 1643 to which in or about 1650 125 engravings were added, inserted throughout the book. Two of those engravings were modified copies after Rembrandt.

Rembrandt, Christ before Pilate, etching, 54.9 x 44.7 cm, Bartsch 77 ii(5), dated 1635 and 1636
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

Anonymous engraver after Rembrandt, Christ before Pilate, engraving, 41.8 x 51 cm, 1650 at the latest
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

The one to which I would like to draw attention was a copy in reverse after Rembrandt’s Christ before Pilate of 1635, with the publisher’s imprint of Cornelis Dankerts (1604-56). The copyist has extracted the major details from the etching, which is in a vertical format, and rearranged them in the horizontal shape required for insertion as a double spread in a standing Bible. The engraved image is in mirror image to the etching, because no care was taken to reverse directions for printing.

What strikes me about the new constellation of Christ before Pilate is the resemblance of its caption to that on the Waterloos impression of the Hundred-guilder print. Juxtaposing the two, this is what we see:

To me, this explains the function of Waterloos’s rhyme. He wrote it to serve as the caption not to Rembrandt’s etching but to a proposed but never executed engraved copy of the Hundred-guilder print, for use in the various royal-size Bible print applications.

Of particular interest in the context of the debate I initiated in 1984 is the rhyme beneath Christ before Pilate. In my translation (for the Latin quatrain via Loekie Schwartz’s Dutch translation), it reads:

You blind mob, behold the pitiable picture of sorrow,
How his sacred skin is torn open by miscreants,
His knees knocking, his tread faltering,
His head bleeding from the thorns pressed into it. What crime has he committed to merit this?

The Jewish people, incited and enflamed by their bloodthirsty scribes,
When Pilate asked them
If they wished Barabbas or Christ to be released,
Sabotaged their own supreme salvation on behalf of a murderer.

The judge is reluctant to thwart innocence,
[But] the heated crowd shouts louder than loud: Crucify Him.
His blood be upon us, and on our children:
A sentence that God blissfully carried out on them.

Thus does the world condemn so often those deserving to live
And relieves the nastiest villains of all fear and need.
And like Pilate, to win the favor of the people,
Delivers a pious Christian, innocent, to death.

The single line that occurs in both captions, in the third verse of both, is the second deadliest: “The blood of the innocent Lord remains on their hands” and “Let his blood be upon us, and on our children.” The second deadliest, because the fourth line in the third verse under Christ before Pilate is worse: “A sentence that God blissfully carried out on them.” This is addressed not to the Jews of the time of Jesus but those of the writer’s own day. In 1650 the sentence that God blissfully carried out on the Jews was being felt in Amsterdam, as thousands of Ashkenazi refugees from the massacres of the Khmelnytsky uprising in Poland sought – and found, let that be stated – refuge there.

Why look for another author for the caption on the Dankerts engraving of Christ before Pilate than H. F. Waterloos? And from whom will Waterloos have acquired, shortly after its creation, an impression of the Hundred-guilder print on a sheet of paper with room beneath the image for an inscription on the model of a royal-size engraving? There was only one source: Rembrandt.

© Gary Schwartz 2019. Published on the Schwartzlist on 12 September 2019

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The caption beneath Christ before Pilate reads:

E C C E   H O M O                             Iohan. XIX. Cap.

Adspice caeca cohors miserabile schema doloris
Vtsacra verberibus sit lacerata cutis
Genua labant tilubant gressus, peracuta cruentat
Spina caput meruit quae scelus ecce tuum.

Het Iootsche Volck door hun bloetdorstige Schrijfgeleerden
Beweecht en opgeruijt, wanneer Pilatus haer
Vraecht of zij Barrabam, of Christum vrij begeerden.
Wracken hun opperst heyl om eenen Moordenaer.

Den Rechter is beswaert d’onnoselheÿt te hindren,
Het opgemaekt geritt, roept Cruijsthem, overluÿt.
Zijn bloet com ouer ons, en ouer onse kindren:
Welck ordeel Godt aen hun ook heerlijk voerden uÿt.

Soo doemt de werelt vaek die waerdich waer te leven
En helpt den boosten Schelm uÿt alle vrees en noot
En als Pilatus om de gonst des vollickx geuen
Een vroome christen ziel onschuldig aende doot.

C.Dankerts excud.

The engravings in the first royal-size States Bible known were published by Frans Laurentius and M.J. Roos in 2012 in Met veele schoone Figueren verçiert: een bijzondere Bijbel, Middelburg/IJmuiden 2012. Had I paid better attention to it when a copy was presented to me by my friend the distinguished art dealer Frans Laurentius, I could have made this discovery seven years ago. The Bible was then in his possession; it has since been acquired by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

One of my dearest friends in art history is Stephanie Dickey, the following outstanding publications by whom are quoted above: Rembrandt: portraits in print, Amsterdam and Philadelphia (John Benjamins) 2004; “Inscriptions and the reception of Rembrandt’s etchings,” in M. Roscam Abbing, ed., Rembrandt 2006: essays, Leiden (Foleor) 2006, pp. 137-54. “Rethinking Rembrandt’s Renaissance,” in Canadian Journal of Netherlandic Studies 21 (2007), pp. 1-22

Concerning royal-size Bible prints, a stepchild of print history, see Jan van der Waals, exhib. cat. Prenten in de Gouden Eeuw: van kunst tot kastpapier, Rotterdam (Museum Boymans van Beuningen [the former spelling of the museum name]) 2006, p. 161, and Peter van der Coelen, “Royal-size Bible prints,” Print Quarterly 33 (2016), pp. 443-46

No time for anything more. From 14 to 22 September I will be in Moscow and St. Petersburg for work on an exhibition I am curating for the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center and the Hermitage.


21 thoughts on “375 Another third poem on Rembrandt Jews”

  1. No mention of the book I did with Shelley, which insists on the anti-Jewish sentiment of the Passion images consistently and across many works? You are not alone in your reading–but we do take the Calvinist viewpoint seriously that the Old Testament was a partial revelation, so that the apparent contradiction does not in fact pertain. See 272f and 374 for Waterloos in particular, Larry

  2. Thanks for reacting, Larry. In this column I could not give a general view of the question. I was out to introduce as pointedly and succinctly as I could this new piece of evidence. The publications I cite are only those I quoted. But I’m happy to recommend (once more) your and Shelley’s authoritative Rembrandt’s faith.

  3. Thank you, Gary, for your thoughtful engagement with my analysis.

    I agree that Rembrandt most likely was less sympathetic to Judaism than romantic-era writers liked to think. However, he did accept commissions from Jewish patrons (as well as Catholics, Mennonites, Calvinists, and Remonstrants). Overall, I don’t think his work reflects a single doctrinal position — I think he was always on the lookout for a good story and the best way to bring it to life. I agree that he must have known Waterloos, and indeed it was likely Rembrandt who gave Waterloos the impression of the ‘Hundred Guilder’ on which the poem is written, as a gesture of friendship, but that does not necessarily mean Rembrandt agreed with all of Waterloos’ ideas, or knew what Waterloos was going to write. (BTW, as I have written, I see the inscription not as four poems but as one poem in four stanzas [quatrains], in which the writer’s response evolves meditatively.) And even if Waterloos’ poem was planned to be inscribed on a copy, that is still a project that took place outside of Rembrandt’s control.

    In my experience, poetic glosses on works of art, especially when written after the fact, can only be taken to reflect the viewpoint of the writer (and/or publisher), not the artist. This can even be true for inscriptions engraved on prints. There are many cases where a plate passed from one publisher to another who changed the inscription and/or aspects of the image, for instance to recast a Catholic Biblical image for a Mennonite audience (e.g., Jan Philips Schabaelje’s picture Bible of 1646, as discussed by Visser, Schuckman, Stronks). Sometimes when prints were copied the meaning was misconstrued or shifted along the way (for instance, Wenzel Hollar transformed Van Vliet’s figure study of Rembrandt’s “Judas” into a “Weeping Heraclitus”). Several of Rembrandt’s prints were copied, and the copies were adapted for other uses, such as book illustrations. This process took place after the work had left the artist’s hands. Even when the people involved were personally known to the artist, it does not mean that he necessarily cooperated in their activities.

    In short, my issue is not so much with Rembrandt’s relationship to Judaism as with the nature of the evidence. Independent adaptations or responses to an artist’s work are just that — responses, not proof of the artist’s original intent. One thing is certain: Rembrandt will always give us plenty to think about!

      1. I’m not sure if you were finding intention in the gifting of a “sheet of paper with room beneath the image”—and not knowing enough about the larger questions you pose above—I’d only add that I imagine Rembrandt left margins around most if not all of the impressions of the print he gave out, and any cropping would have been carried out in the intervening years by whomever owned the prints. I believe there are a number of surviving impressions of the print with wider margins with no inscriptions added. The Rijksmuseum has a first state impression with wide margins all around, in any case (RP-P-OB-601).

        Also, just read the Heemskerck post and enjoyed it greatly!

        1. I’m not sure that impression was gifted, Jun. It looks to me like part of an aborted publishing project. Aren’t you impressed by that comparison of the verses in the Dankert print of 1650 and the Waterloos of about the same year?

          About space around an image, I am told by Theo and Frans Laurentius that Rembrandt made maximal use of the surface on his printing press by filling it with as many plates as would fit and keeping blank paper to a minimum. In researching this, I am at a disadvantage not owning a New Hollstein catalogue of Rembrandt’s prints at $635 for each of seven volumes, and of its not being online, even for payment. I just cannot go to the Rijksmuseum or the RKD every time I want to look up what Erik Hinterding and Jaco Rutger have to say about a print and its impressions.

      2. Thank you, Stephanie, for putting your response down in words. I agree with all you say, but I do not think it applies to this case. We are not dealing with the later exploitation of an invention, which was so common at the time. Waterloos’s highly colored verses on Rembrandt’s most prominent etching were written under Rembrandt’s nose, within a year after the print was completed. I think you downplay the extent of Rembrandt’s knowledge of and probable involvement in what Waterloos was doing. Moreover, the timing of the publication of the print Bible with thar other Waterlooslike poem fortifies the impression that we are dealing with a coordinated action that would not have taken place without the cooperation of a control freak like Rembrandt.

        I see that I have not succeeded in putting an end to the discussion. That’s all to the good. I suppose.

    1. Exactly! As an artist I have many friends of many opinions, none of those ideas anti-semitic, but we never know completely those we share ideas with , nor do we need to take blame for their opinions. They alone should be judged for their thoughts. I’m not saying Rembrandt was different than many others of his time and place, ignorant prejudice, but I will not tar him for another’s words. I saw no proof that he agreed with Waterloos. Finally, as a painter I’m interested in how his paintings inspire through great painting. I’m tired of people reading strange things into paintings, placing their interpretations on top of somebodies visual art.

      1. John, the circumstances of Rembrandt’s time are really different. When Waterloos writes that his words illuminate Rembrandt’s art and vice versa, he means it, and I think Rembrandt agreed. If you are interested, do read an excellent book by W.A. Visser ‘t Hooft, Rembrandt and the Gospel. He reconstructs the networks of Christian poets and artists who joined in conventicles for the exchange and sharing of ideas and values. Concerning Waterloos’s poem on the Hundred-guilder print, he writes (p. 90): “As he was a friend of Rembrandt, it is quite possible that he just reports what Rembrandt told him.” Unfortunately, even Visser ‘t Hooft then goes on to quote only the first two verses and does not tell his reader what Waterloos was saying of the Jews.

    2. I agree with the last paragaph. It would be unusual – probbly dangerous – in 17th century Europe for painters to take responsibility for a position on doctrine that differed from that of Church or State. It was hard enough for philosophers & theologians. There is therefore little chance of knowing what Rembrandt’s ‘personal’ view may have been. I encountered this issue with the paintings by the supposedly ‘Stoic’ Nicolas Poussin painting the Seven Sacraments & found that with the paintings for Cassiano dal Pozzo there were — no surprises! –nothing to worry the Inquisition. With the second set in nearly every detail of iconography the paintings are close to Jesuit & Oratorian research of the late 16th to mid 17th century. Where he disagreed with his patron Paul de Chantelou was in the manner of composing a scene & the foundation of that in the treatment of affect. For Poussin that certainly depended on a study of ancient models & Greek & Roman criticism of the arts.

      1. Thanks for making these points, Tony. There was one fraught incident between two of Rembrandt’s close contacts, Caspar van Baerle and Menasseh ben Israel. When van Baerle wrote an appreciative verse for Menasseh, seeming to express acceptance of Judaism, he was hounded for years. It contributed to the mental breakdown that finally killed him.

  4. Dear Gary,

    I posted a longish comment yesterday that seems to have got swallowed up in the ether. Trying to reconstruct it today, I come up with some new questions. As the economist and editorialist Paul Krugman likes to warn readers about some of his columns, this will be both long and rather wonky.
    First, a word about Waterloos. Even a casual glance at his entry in the album amicorum of Jacob Heyblocq confirms the apparently widespread – but, so far as I know, nowhere actually verified – assumption that he himself inscribed the poem signed with his name. From there, however, things get a bit trickier.
    The impression to which he added his verses belongs to the small number of the second state printed on western, rather than Asian, paper. A handful of these, described by Hinterding as “early, contrasty,” and – unlike the impressions on Asian paper – without surface tone, have paper found elsewhere in Rembrandt. But most, “generally of rather poor quality” and likewise without surface tone, have otherwise unknown paper with “several variants of the Strasbourg lily with the countermark IHS”; and “those marks and the quality of the impressions suggests that they were made later, probably posthumously.” The variants, in fact, mostly boil down to a single paper in the usual twin forms: Strasbourg lily A.f.a/IHS A.f.a and Strasbourg lily A.f.b/IHS A.f.b (I’ll refer to both in the following simply as A.f).
    The paper in Waterloos’s impression does not quite match any of the above. Hinterding records an IHS countermark (A.g.) “closely related” to the twins just mentioned; he does not cite a corresponding principal mark, although the sheet by rights must also contain a Strasbourg lily, the near-inevitable of IHS. The version of IHS itself indeed comes closer to A.f. by a good margin than to anything else; and as expected, it has no counterparts anywhere in Rembrandt. So it would look as if the impression could well belong to those “made later, probably posthumously.” (Let me spare everyone further wonkiness by not going into the question of whether Waterloos had a specially provided sheet larger than those otherwise used for the print: As Jun Nakumura has already suggested, there is no reason to assume this, and no small reason to doubt it – Hinterding has provided very good arguments on Rembrandt’s margins, and sample calculations I’ve done for this communication do nothing to contradict him.) But if, as the watermark would appear to suggest, it truly does, then all of them must come from Rembrandt’s lifetime: Waterloos died in 1664. On the other hand, Rembrandt himself surely did not print at least the impressions on A.f. paper, even if still alive at the time of their production; all but certainly, they come from a time when he no longer had the plate – most likely, then, after his bankruptcy.
    Where does this leave us with Waterloos? The answer will depend on something I don’t know, but others (Erik Hinterding? Jaco Rutgers?) might: Is the quality of his impression much the same as those on A.f. paper or is it decidedly superior? Only if the latter can we realistically separate this impression from the rest. Even then, however, I wonder how readily we should assume a direct connection to Rembrandt. Michael Zell recently points out that a “very old tradition, probably dating to the early eighteenth century, has it that Rembrandt’s 100 Guilder Print … was originally exchanged as a gift between Rembrandt and his intimates.“ Yet before placing Waterloos in that particular loop, we might recall that the only concrete traces of the tradition to which Zell refers come, not surprisingly, from an impression on Asian paper. Whatever the elegance of Waterloos’s calligraphy, the more quotidian material of his sheet may point to something else entirely.
    That said, the calligraphy would nevertheless incline me to join those who think of that something else, too, as a gift – but a gift not to, but from, Waterloos, and not necessarily one instigated by him: Might he not, after all, have been working on commission? As this implies, I feel less than confident that he would have meant the sheet as the model for a Bible illustration. By chance I’ve looked at a fair share of such things in the past few months – and Waterloos’s opening lines, with their praise of the artist, have no counterpart in anything I’ve come across myself or read about.
    Even if, of course, the material evidence should not sustain the supposed link between Waterloos’s poem and Rembrandt, this hardly gives the latter what the Germans call a Persilschein. Whether or not Rembrandt got along well with this or that particular Jew, as a Christian of his time he would all but inevitably, if only by habit, subscribed to the kind of belief represented by that scabrous third strophe. Or to put it another way: Why should Rembrandt have been any better than, say, Bach, for whose anti-Jewish views we have ample evidence (and whose notoriously anti-Jewish St. John Passion I’ve recently conducted several times in Israel, no less)?

    Warmest regards always (and not least for a wonderful visit to Russia),

    1. Many thanks for this terrific, original contribution to the discussion, Joshua. When I saw the parallel between the setup and content of the inscription on the Visscher engraving and the Waterloos manuscript inscription, I became convinced that they had the same origin, and the dating of the Hundred-guilder print in 1649 and the Visscher Ecce homo in 1650 convinced me that they were made in conjunction with each other. However, if your dating of the paper is correct, this will call for reconsideration. I’ll get on to this as soon as I can.

      Returning your warm regards, from a hotel room in Moscow, on the way to a lecture at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center and starting tomorrow a three-day program of visits to Jewish collections and institutions here,

  5. Many thanks in return, Gary.

    Again, I must stress that this is not a slam-dunk: the paper only suggestive, so ultimately it will depend on the quality of the impression. Unfortunately, this has not seemed like something one could resolve on the web (what was Panofsky’s line: “Damned originals”?).

    Anyway, thanks as ever for raising these issues and keeping us on our epistemological toes!


  6. Joshua Rifkin makes an excellent point about the paper! Definitely worth considering further. This is a great example of how technical research can contribute to a greater understanding of context and content as well as facture. It is indeed a pity that the New Hollstein volumes are so expensive.

    1. Many thanks, Stephanie. But … I felt uneasy today and did a little more searching. According to the BN Gallica website, the Waterloos impression is one of those on Japanese paper, which would of course make it early, as Gary and others surmised.
      The site is very confusing – the link for its image of the Waterloos impression seems to describe a different impression entirely (one of the later Baillie versions). On the other hand, Gallica does not list an impression of the second state, to which this impression supposedly belongs – and Hinterding in 2006 (p. 193, n. 349) gives the Collection Dutuit (not in the BNF) as the location of only impression of the second state on Asian paper in Paris. Oh, how easy this would have been if one had the New Hollstein to hand (why is something like this not on the web?)!
      In any event: I would still hold to the thought that this impression is a gift commissioned by a third party (neither Rembrandt nor Waterloos) to be presented to a fourth. I still think this fits the context better than the Bible idea (and perhaps you already made the same suggestion in your 2006 article, which I have not yet managed to see). And it still, I fear, would leave the connection to Rembrandt moot.
      One last thought: there are some small differences in Waterloos’s script between the Album amicorum inscription (1660) and the poem (with one exception, the letter “d” is different throughout the latter). This could help place the poem chronologically. But the sample size is not so great as to allow firm conclusions one way or the other.

  7. Much egg on face. I realize that Hinterding n. 349 was in fact listing impressions on Western paper; n. 352 does cite two impressions on Asian paper in the BNF. So one of them is obviously Waterloos’s. Apologies to all. I’ll think four times before my next intervention.

  8. Much ado about what? Accepting the fact that Rembrandt shared age-old and widespread religious prejudices. Prejudices held on a broad scale of intellectual and visceral intensity that survived even the Shoah, which would have been impossible without them. Prejudices that were rampant throughout the Christian world, rule rather than exception. An example: my adoptive mother (b. 1910) came from the French Catholic upper middle class and, although not very religious and married to an American who fought against Germany in WWII, expressed unambiguous anti-semitic sentiments throughout the second half of the 20th century; this while living in New York City and having Jewish friends…

    1. What the ado is about, Jean-Marie, is that Rembrandt was long exempted from this unfortunately widespread prejudice. The evidence I have been piling up to show that this is unjustified continues to be disparaged, as if it does not reflect on him. This has consequences for the interpretation of his work and the understanding of his life. No matter, Frappez, frappez toujours is the motto!

      1. OK. I know the feeling of swimming upstream . The defenders of the hypothesis of Rembrandt as champion-of-the-Jews must have rather strong evidence for their cause. That or a rather simplistic view of the human soul and its history. Isn’t it interesting that Rembrandt could inspire both a Julius Langbehn and a Raoul Mourgues?

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