The Painting by Rembrandt “Faust”

The Painting by Rembrandt “Faust”

The opposition “light and darkness, darkness” derives its origin from the simple natural cycle that a person observed every day, and comprehended from time immemorial, from the daily change of day and night, the existence of the day and the non-existence of the night. In terms of color, light and dark, the pair “white and black” answers. In the spatial model – top and bottom. In categories of morality – good and evil, life and death. Today we will try to delve into these categories, based on the work of Goethe and the painting “the great Dutchman” Rembrandt.

The works of Rembrandt, picturesque and graphic, diverse for subjects and depth of characteristics, constitute one of the tops of European and world art. They became a kind of result of the picturesque achievements of the Dutch culture of the 17th century. Rembrandt was born in 1606 in Leideni to the families of the miller Harmens van Rijn. Very early in the boy was a penchant for painting.

Not long after studying at Leiden University, the young Rembrandt devoted himself entirely to art. For the sake of painting, the university leaves and goes to Amsterdam. Soon he returns to his native city, where he begins to independently study painting in his own studio. During this period, Rembrandt teaches a lot from life itself: he looks inquisitively at the world around him, watches the facial expressions and gestures of people, studies the effects of lighting.

Rembrandt’s

favorite means was the use of the effects of chiaroscuro, its nuances and contrasts, with which he achieved great materiality and directed the viewer’s attention to the most important thing in the composition of the picture. Restrained golden scale, laconic drawing and flicker of light provided a picturesque manner of Rembrandt specificity and emotional expressiveness.

It was during the Leiden period that the artist first turned to the technique of etching. Etching – a kind of engraving on metal, where deeper elements of the image make a way of etching metal with acids. To make a printing plate, copper or zinc plates are used, the polished surface of which is covered with ground from asphalt, wax and rosin and waxed with wax candles to get a background. The designation is marked on the ground with a needle to the metal, after which the images are etched with acid, and in the etched places they fill the ink and, using the machine, print on moistened paper. Style etching originated in Western Europe at the beginning of the XVI century.

Rembrandt worked with oil paints, a pencil, a pen and a brush, and also completely mastered the technique of etching. He owns about 300 etchings. They are devoted mainly to biblical and evangelical subjects, but there are works and genre scenes. Etching “Faust” was created during the creative maturity of the master (1652-1653 gg.) Based on the book by I. Shpis “The story of Dr. Johann Faust, the famous wizard and warlock.”

The image of a large rectangular window in the depth on the opposite black wall occupies the upper right part of the etching; in the foreground you can clearly see the tall gray figure of the illustrious alchemist, day and night immersed in the mystery of black magic. Faust, agitated, rose from the wooden armchair, whose handle is seen in the lower left corner, and leaned on both sides of the desk with both hands.

The alchemist looks intensively at the strange vision that emerged at the bottom of the window and shone his cloudy dwelling – a radiant magic disk with Latin concentric circles inside it. The disk burns with a cold and bright flame. On the right side of it is seen another disk, this time an elliptical shape, extracted up and down. In the transparent halo of these light figures, from the gloom above the table, the mysterious dark clusters of the hands of an unknown creature – the spirit caused by Faust – are barely depicted.

The table is littered with books and letters, before the lectern, lies the half-opened book of the learned doctor, and between us and the table an old globe is established. Only the upper hemisphere is visible, since the lower edge of the image passes just at its equator. On the left, in the half-darkness of the cabinet, behind Faust we see the etching cut off by the upper edge of the etched mottled curtain, and behind it, on the rise, is the human skull.

On the etching of Rembrandt in the expression of the evil old face of Faust – interrogative and restless. It is this arrangement of the spirit that accompanies the hero Goethe. And like a great work of a German artist, this engraving is also covered with mystery and illuminated by a diva. We, contemplating it, are permeated with the same anxiety and expectation as Dr. Faust. The enthusiastic concentration of the scientist, his inner tension is continuous and continuous. They support his being.

The engraving of Rembrandt “Faust” has become something absolutely new in the world chart. And in fact, even for the modern spectator, who is difficult to bring to surprise, this etching, when first examined, immediately becomes a phenomenon of magical power. It first sees the light: the sun, which in other paintings Rembrandt only guessed, suddenly moved.

Through the darkened Faustian cabinet penetrates the light, it blinds us. This intense light effect in the 50s (the time of creation of etching) becomes the main subject of Rembrandt’s artistic experiments. The artist uses the method of irradiation of light (irradiation is called increasing the size of light figures due to their image on a dark background and vice versa).

Thanks to this, Rembrandt further strengthens the mystery of the event, which serves as the plot of the picture. At the same time, the artist emphasizes the creative power of an inspired person in her quest to penetrate the mystery of the universe. Without going beyond the boundaries of everyday life, without flying to the highest altitude and not sinking to the bottom of the sea, the thinking hero of Rembrandt through mysterious images of light in his room seeks to comprehend the meaning of human existence.

It seems that the light of the “great Dutchman” picture prophesies the birth in 200 years of a literary masterpiece – Goethe’s tragedy “Faust”.


The Painting by Rembrandt “Faust”