Analysis of Rembrandt

Analysis of Rembrandt Joseph Accused by Potiphar's Wife The story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife is told in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, chapter 39. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and bought by Potiphar, a high ranking official in the Pharaoh's service. "The Lord was with Joseph," and gave him success in everything he did. This pleased Potiphar and before long Joseph was given the highest position in the household, and left in charge when Potiphar was away. Now Potiphar's wife found Joseph to be very good looking and had approached him several times saying "come to bed with me;" and Joseph being a man of God would not sin against his master or the Lord, so he refused her. One day when all the servants were gone, Joseph entered the house and Potiphar's wife approached him and while holding on to his cloak said "come to bed with me". Joseph refused and left the house leaving his cloak behind. Potiphar' Wife screamed for help saying that Joseph had attacked and tried to sleep with her. When her husband came home she told him the same false story. Potiphar was so angry at Joseph he had him locked up in Pharaoh's prison. "But while Joseph was in the prison, the Lord was with him." This is the subject matter for which Rembrandt choose to do his representational painting by. The content of the painting all reveals Rembrandt's interpretation of the story This is the account from the Bible of the accusation of Joseph by Potiphar's Wife. Rembrandt Van Ryn chose this particular story as the subject of his narrative painting completed in 1655, under the title of "Joseph Accused By Potiphar's Wife". Before researching this painting, I noted my fist perception of Rembrandt work of art. I realized through that as a result of my later research, my first perception did not change, but instead were enriched and enlarged by a newfound understanding of the man and his art. I largely concentrated on my first and later perceptions in the design elements and principles of lighting or value, infinite space, color, and focal point. After conducting research, my first perceptions about the value, or relative degree of lightness or darkness, in the painting did not change, but instead I learned that Rembrandt's use of light and dark was both purposeful and a technique well- known to the artists of his time. When I first observed this painting, I thought how dark everything seemed. The only exceptions to the darkness are the bed and Potiphar's wife, both of which are flooded in light almost as if a spotlight were thrown on her and the bed. Some light shines on Joseph's face and from behind him like a halo around his body, but this light is very dim. Potiphar in great contrast to his wife is almost in complete darkness. I first felt there should be more light from perhaps candles to cast the entire room in partial light. But after research I found that "Rembrandt liked strong contrasts of light and dark and used them in his paintings all his life, letting darkness hide unnecessary details while using light to bring figures and objects out from the shadows. The high contrast of light against dark changed an ordinary scene into a dramatic one ... the Italian word for this use of light and dark [is] chiaroscuro " (Muhlberger 9). Rembrandt must have believed that too much detail in the room would have obscured the primary players of this scene. He uses light to brightly illuminate the most important person in this painting, Potiphar's wife. In descending order of importance, Rembrandt places a glow around Joseph and casts Potiphar in a almost total darkness. I now am able to see how the contrast of light and dark demonstrates drastically this crucial turning point in Joseph's life. The fact that an Italian word exists for Rembrandt's lighting technique only proves the technique's establishment in the art world he lived and worked in. As a result of research, my fist perceptions about the presence of infinite space in the painting did not change, but instead I gained an understanding of why Rembrandt employed this particular technique in