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David’s Sin

Bathsheba in her Bath

Harmensz Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) The Louvre – Paris. Around 1654.

David sent ambassadors to the new king of the Ammonites, Hanun. Hanun’s father had died. But Hanun and his princes did not treat David’s ambassadors well. Fearing David’s reaction they hired an army of Aramaeans. Joab, the commander of the Israelite army, defeated the army of Hanun. The King of the Aramaeans then, Hadadezer, saw this as a threat and sent an even greater army against David. But David defeated them and killed Shabach the commander of the Aramaean army. David then marched against the Ammonites again and sent Joab to siege Rabbah in Ammonite territory. David remained in Jerusalem meanwhile.

One evening when David was strolling on the palace roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful. David asked who she was and was told, ‘That was Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite’. David then sent messengers to fetch the woman. She came and he lay with her. She returned home. Soon after, the woman conceived and she sent word to David that she was pregnant.

David now sent a letter to Joab ordering him to send Uriah to him. Joab sent Uriah back to Jerusalem. David asked Uriah how Joab was, and then sent him home. Uriah left the palace but did not go to his house and slept at the palace gate. This was reported to David. David asked Uriah the next day why he had not gone home. Uriah answered that the Ark, Israel and Judah were lodged in huts and the warriors camping in the open. Uriah said that in those circumstances he could not go comfortably to his house and eat and drink and sleep with his wife. The following day David invited Uriah in and made him drunk. But again, Uriah slept with the bodyguard and did not go to his house.

David then wrote a letter to Joab and had this letter be brought by Uriah. The letter said, ‘Put Uriah out in front where the battle is the fiercest and then draw back so that he is killed.’ Joab did this and Uriah the Hittite was killed.

When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned. When her period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her into his house. She became his wife and gave birth to a son.

What David had done displeased Yahweh.

Yahweh sent Nathan with a message to David, with a story. The story was about a poor man who had nothing but a ewe lamb and about a rich man who had many. When a traveller came to stay, the rich man did not take anything from his own flock or herd to provide for the wayfarer. Instead he stole the lamb of the poor man and prepared that for his guest. David flew into a great rage. ‘This man should die’, he cried, ‘Who is this rich man?’ Nathan then said to David, ‘You are the man!’ And Nathan told how displeased Yahweh had been with David causing the death of Uriah and taking Uriah’s wife to become David’s wife. Nathan prophesied that Yahweh would raise misfortune for David out of his own house. Before David’s eyes he would take his wives and give them to his neighbour, who would lie with David’s wives in broad daylight. David then wept to Nathan, and said, ‘I have sinned.’ Nathan answered, ‘Yahweh forgives your sin. You are not to die. But since you have outraged Yahweh, the child born to you will die.’ And the child of David and Bathsheba fell ill and died on the seventh day. David then prostrated himself in Yahweh’s sanctuary. He consoled his wife Bathsheba. He slept with her. She conceived and gave birth to a son whom she called Solomon. Yahweh loved Solomon and made this known to Nathan, who named him Jedidah as Yahweh had instructed.

Bathsheba in her Bath

The story of Bathsheba was one of the most popular for paintings of female nudes of the seventeenth century, especially for Protestant artists. Painters used Bathsheba to show a magnificent nude and still have the excuse to represent a Bible scene. The image of Bathsheba in her bath was a replacement for lascivious pictures of Venus or of Diana. It would be impossible to write on this scene without mentioning Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, who made the most impressive and special ‘Bathsheba in her Bath’.

Rembrandt did not have an easy life. He was happy at first and then intensely sad. He was born in 1606 in the town of Leyden in the Netherlands. He started to study philosophy at Leyden University, but abandoned these courses for the art of painting around 1622 already. He studied painting with various masters: Jacob Isaacz van Swanenburgh and Jan Lievens in Leyden and for a short while also with Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam. In 1631 Rembrandt travelled once more to Amsterdam, already a well known painter, and he would live there for the rest of his life. In 1634 he married Saskia van Uylenburgh, the niece of the arts dealer in whose house he lived then. These years were happy for Rembrandt and he adored his young bride. He had many successes in painting. Then, the same year in which he made the now world famous ‘Night Watch’, in 1642, his wife died. To keep his household and raise his children, a first servant and then a second, Hendrickje Stoffels, entered his house. Rembrandt lost money, could not pay anymore his expenses with his painting alone. He contracted loans and made debts. Hendrickje Stoffels became his mistress. In 1656 Rembrandt was declared bankrupt. His paintings and his house were publicly sold but the resulting amount of that sale was even not enough to pay off all his debts. Rembrandt and his family moved to another house in Amsterdam. From then on he worked not for his own account, but for Hendrickje Stoffels and for his son Titus, who had become an arts dealer. These two managed his production. In 1663 Hendrickje Stoffels died, in 1665 his son Titus. Rembrandt was practically alone then and he lived with his daughter-in-law until his death in 1669.

Rembrandt made his painting ‘Bathsheba in her Bath’ in 1654. He was about forty-eight years old then, and he lived with Hendrickje Stoffels as husband and wife without being legally married. That same year Hendrickje was called before the Council of the Protestant Church of Amsterdam and blamed for living unmarried, in shame with Rembrandt. That fact had become visible because Hendrickje was pregnant and in 1654 also a daughter was born to Rembrandt called Cornelia. Rembrandt had had two other daughters by that name before, from his first wife Saskia, but these two babies had died in infancy, very early after birth. In 1654 also he made a portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels bathing in a river, holding her long white shirt above her knees. This picture is now in the National Gallery of London. Bathsheba might very well be Hendrickje Stoffels.

The painter made a very special picture of Bathsheba. He painted in brown and white hues, with few touches of red-orange in deep tones. All the colours of this painting are very harmonious and gradually shift into warm, similar hues and tones. Rembrandt used no blue or green, which might have contrasted and broken some of the warm mood of the picture. He let a diffused light come from the lower left and in this light David could admire the golden body of the woman. The lady servant that wipes Bathsheba’s feet dry is heavily dressed, but Bathsheba is entirely nude. She holds in her hand the letter that David sent her. So ‘Bathsheba in her Bath’ suggests two events of the bible story. In one event, Bathsheba is the nude that could have been admired by David, in the other, later event, Bathsheba receives the letter of the king. In several other pictures of the seventeenth century it was the habit of showing Bathsheba with David’s letter in her hand. The letter could be considered to be a symbol of marriage and of David’s love. The letter suggests to the viewer all the rest of the story of David and Bathsheba, their marriage, David’s sin and the firstborn dead child but also the glory of Solomon. These elements of course can also refer to Rembrandt’s own life and the painter cannot but have reflected on the parallels between his own life and the Bible story.

Bathsheba is beautiful of face. She has nice features in her face, long but thin eyebrows, a straight nose, full lips, and her face is neither thin nor too full. It is the face of a generous, nice lady. She wears her hair pulled back, not alluringly hiding some of her features and her face is fully freed and open. She looks down, interested, but also melancholic, dreamily lost in thought and smiling just a little. She looks down at the servant, but also at the letter that she has just read. She really is a beautiful woman. She could be a striking figure when dressed in a wonderful, multi-coloured, heavy robe as Amsterdam ladies wore at the times. She wears a few jewels: a double dark brown string in her hair, a pearl at her ear, a white stone at a black necklace around her slender, long, neck and an armband of gold and pearls again on her left arm. These jewels are small, delicate and not the heavy jewels of seduction that by their ornament attract men.

Bathsheba has the body of a real woman, not the body of an idealised Venus or Diana. Bathsheba has small straight breasts, a belly that is already heavy for a woman so young and very strong muscled legs. This is not the body of a courtesan or of an aristocratic lady that has never worked in her life. Rembrandt showed the body of a woman still young, with an intelligent, delicate face but with the body of a mature working woman. It could be a body that Rembrandt had seen and knew very well, the body of Hendrickje Stoffels. That body however is presented simply and directly, not in a seductive poise. Bathsheba is a virtuous woman so Rembrandt could not and wanted not to present her with her arms high above her head or lying down sensually, as would b the case in so many pictures of Venus. In the contrast between body and face Rembrandt expressed some melancholy on the fine beauty that such a woman could have been, but whose body has grown strong through a very active working life. Still, the nude is magnificent and noble and Rembrandt enhanced this feeling in the viewer by showing a golden brocaded blanket next to Bathsheba. This element places Bathsheba in a rich environment and the viewer suddenly knows that the nude woman lives in a palace and is indeed the future Queen of Israel.

The skills of Rembrandt are of course fully displayed in this painting. The viewer has to look at the wonderful chiaroscuro on the body of Bathsheba, by which the painter shaped the volume of the nudity. Her left leg is in the shadow, so Rembrandt had really to know how the shadow of one leg could fall on the other and form a complex shadow area there. The white linen next to Bathsheba is a masterpiece of the art of painting. Rembrandt there used his famous lead whites and the viewer could of course almost touch the linen, so strong is the texture of the brushstrokes in the lead white colour, and so perfect the illusion of the folds. The brocaded blanket also is marvellous, as well as the headdress of the servant, and just look at the delicacy with which Rembrandt painted the hair of Bathsheba.

The composition of the painting is simple. Bathsheba sits right near the bed. She holds her head slightly inclined however, so that the vertical line of her straight back is broken. By her look Rembrandt directs the viewer downwards, over the letter to the servant. This line lies on the left diagonal of the picture. The head of the servant balances in the lower left the face of Bathsheba higher up. And halfway between the two heads is the letter, which in some way binds the two figures since the servant probably brought the letter and knows its content. Most of the scene, Bathsheba’s body and the white linen, lies in the right triangle under the left diagonal. This mass needed balance so Rembrandt painted a golden brocaded, heavy blanket there – upwards from the left diagonal. That way he brought perfect balance of masses of colour in the picture.

Perfectly fine pictures such as ‘Bathseba in her Bath’ by Rembrandt can only be made with very much love and obsession. Rembrandt must have loved Hendrickje Stoffels, have gladly and eagerly taken in her delicate traits in his mind so that he could paint them by heart. And he loved painting. Painting came intuitively, but Rembrandt also knew how to deal intelligently with composition and colours. The result of that love was all warm mood in a gentle, magnificent picture.

David giving the letter to Uriah

Pieter Lastman (1583-1633). The Royal Cabinet of Paintings, Mauritshuis – The Hague. 1619.

Pieter Lastman was a painter born in Amsterdam of the Netherlands in 1583. He studied painting with Gerrit Pietersz Sweelinck, and he stayed several years in Italy, from around 1603 to 1607. He was well positioned therefore to lead Dutch painting into the seventeenth century and into full Baroque, transforming a Mannerist style that had also been taken up in the Netherlands. He must have seen Caravaggio paintings in Rome; he travelled to Venice, and absorbed those influences of the Italian images to incorporate them in his own pictures. Lastman painted mythological and biblical scenes in which usually many figures appeared in theatrical attitudes, indicating vivid action. He had a great imagination and liked to decorate his paintings with abundance of decorative elements. Pieter Lastman was a teacher of Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn and he thus had a certain influence on the early works of this great master, even though Rembrandt may only have studied with Lastman for six months or so. Lastman spent his whole career in Amsterdam. He was quite esteemed in his town and died in 1633.

In Lastman’s ‘David giving the Letter to Uriah’, the painter presented David as a mature King. David is seated on a throne and dressed in the full ornate of the supreme leader of a country, holding the sceptre that is the symbol of his supremacy. Uriah, the Hittite, in full armour, kneels besides the King and David hands him the letter that will send Uriah into the heat of the battle and unto his death. The theme is simple enough, but Lastman added many elements that bring the picture not in the Bible sphere but in the mythological domain.

David sits on a throne on a dais before the Roman columns of what could be a church, and he sits in the open. On the left of the picture we see Lastman’s idea of Saint Peter’s of Rome, though the cathedral cupola is exaggerated compared to its front. Other roman columns are on the extreme left of the canvas. The setting is thus one of Roman antiquity and also Uriah could be dressed like a Roman centurion. But David and his squire or scribe are dressed as potentates contemporary to Lastman’s times, David in a heavy cloak lined with furs and the scribe in the austere black courtier’s suit of the Dutch seventeenth century. Heavy curtains hang on the right and also a brocaded tablecloth decorated this part of the painting. David hands the letter, but he more holds the letter still in his hand than giving it over to Uriah. Pieter Lastman did not really paint the act of the handing over of the fatal letter and he did not show much the difference between a conscience-torn king and the loyal soldier. Therefore, Lastman has missed most of the tension of the story. He shows the scene of the story, but David looks too much the wise, already older man. David looks too innocently so that much of the psychology and of the real tragedy is not presented. Rembrandt would have shown exactly this: the desire, lust and growing remorse in the king, compared to the innocent loyalty of the soldier. Lastman preferred to paint other elements of the story but the psychology of the characters at the moment.

Pieter Lastman used various colours in his picture. David wears a red cloak; his scribe is in black; the tablecloth is painted in dark orange; the tapestry behind David is a yellow-brown. More importantly though, Lastman also painted in the colour green, and the curtains on the right as well as Saint Peter’s are painted in this colour. Lastman also used blue on Uriah, and a little violet in the sky. He used another hue of violet on David’s robe. Rembrandt would in his later painting altogether avoid green and blue hues, but his teacher must have shown him these colours and learned to use them. Rembrandt could learn enough from Lastman the technique of chiaroscuro. The folds in David’s robe, in the cloth beneath his feet and in the green curtains are painted very luxuriously and absolutely emphasised in contrasts of light shades. Lastman showed here his painterly skills and the delight he took in such details. Lastman must have found real pleasure in creating volume so clearly by this technique, so that the exact shape of David’s legs for instance is seen in the play of the folds. In this, Lastman was a master, but it also distracts the viewer’s attention from the crux of the scene.

Pieter Lastman used a composition that we find back in some of Rembrandt’s pictures. David’s figure and his cloak form a pyramid structure. Lastman even painted a dog on the left of David and he let the pattern of the table cloth on the right follow the descending line of the pyramid or triangle shape. This enhanced the impression of solidity of the king that the viewer has of David. Lastman positioned David somewhat to the right however; David is not in the exact geometric middle of the picture. Lastman had then some place fort he Roman landscape and of course for the figure of Uriah. Lastman then balanced Uriah on the right side with the table and the scribe, but the colour balance is not so well chosen since the orange tablecloth is a more striking area of colour than the various darker hues that Lastman used for Uriah. Lastman balanced well the green area of Saint Peter’s and the view in green hues of Rome with the green colour used in the curtains on the right. Pieter Lastman’s colours however remain difficult. David wears a blue violet robe but an orange-red cloak and these two do not match well. Overall the colours do not match very well, seem too heavy and contrasting, and the contrasting is not ideal. A painter that would be extremely sensitive to harmony of colours, like Rembrandt, might well have been afraid to use such a diverse palette of strong colours this way.

Pieter Lastman liked to bring picturesque details in his pictures, by which we recognise both the Baroque painter’s love of ornament and the preference of Ditch painters for genre elements. There is the dog, a symbol of loyalty, positioned between the king and Uriah. Look at Uriah’s helmet on the ground, studded with feathers. Look at several small figures of Roman people and of soldiers on the left. These lay at leisure or have come to admire the spectacle of the king in full royal dress. Such small details announce further genre handling in Dutch pictures.

Pieter Lastman mixed so many objects, decoration of curtains and tapestries, and strong colours, that the painting seems to a viewer more a capriccio, an elegant piece of imagination than a stern Bible story. Lastman transformed David in an oriental tyrant, glorifying in his power and wealth. Lastman was in this picture an Italianising Classicist, but a little too decorative for Classicist purism. His presentation lacks the power of the psychology of the tragedy. He influenced the young Rembrandt, but Rembrandt was too powerful a character to remain permanently interested in the picturesque of the Dutch Italianisers and he must have found the colour breadth of his teacher Pieter Lastman too wide and too harshly contrasting for his taste. Lastman however had considerable skills at drawing and painting and he knew well the design of composition. From these the young Rembrandt could profit.

David and Bathsheba

Jan Massys (1509-1575). The Louvre – Paris. 1562.

Jan Massys was a Mannerist painter of Brabant in Belgium, born before 1509 in Antwerp, and mainly living and working there until his death in 1575. He was the son of Quentin Metsys (1465-1530), also a painter of Brabant, born in the university town of Leuven some fifty kilometres south of Antwerp, but who came to Antwerp around 1490. Quentin Metsys or Massys was one of the first Renaissance painters of Brabant, but still much linked to the Gothic traditions of the Flemish Primitive painters. His sons Cornelis and Jan were also painters and Jan one of the first Mannerists of the Southern Netherlands. Jan Massys was a painter of Brabant and of Antwerp, and there he was a contemporary of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525-1569), but he painted in a very different style than Bruegel. The history of the Metsys family, like the history of the family of Pieter Bruegel, is closely connected to the history of Antwerp.

Antwerp was a Roman Catholic town in the beginning of the sixteenth century but Protestantism appealed. Jan Massys became a Protestant and he may because of that have had to leave the town around 1544, only to return to Antwerp around 1558 when Protestantism was better tolerated. During his absence form Antwerp he stayed probably in Italy and France, so that his Mannerist ways of painting may have been the result of influences of Florentine Mannerism and also from the Italian painters and their French assistants working on the decoration of the Castle of Fontainebleau in France.

Antwerp was the most important metropolis, port and merchant town of Western Europe in the sixteenth century. Around 1570 the town could count about 90.000 inhabitants within its fortified walls. Calvinism attracted many followers in Antwerp and the Calvinists were out to impose their views on the town and its government. In 1566 a few tens of Calvinists became so aggressive that for a while they could enter Catholic churches and destroy their sculptures and paintings in a wave of iconoclasm. The uprising was quickly stopped however and from 1567 to 1578 Roman Catholicism was the only officially religion in Antwerp again. Protestant influence rose during that period and in 1578 a religious peace treaty was concluded by which Protestant and Catholic faiths were professed together. In the meantime, the Spanish King revivened the war with the Netherlands. He sent the Duke of Alva to the Southern Netherlands, to Flanders and Brabant, to reconquer the Northern Netherlands and stamp out Protestantism. The war did not proceed well for Alva; the Northern water rebels could not be tamed. Moreover, money became scarce for Spain. In 1571 Alva levied heavy taxes on Antwerp, with which he hoped to pay his mercenary army. In 1572 the Dutch rebels blocked the River Schelde on which lay Antwerp, so that more taxes were levied on the ships that fared on the river to Antwerp. Sympathy with the Protestant North grew in Antwerp and the Calvinists became more and more influential. Jan Massys had worked throughout this period in Antwerp; he died in 1575. In 1576 Alva’s troops had not been paid anymore since many months. They entered Antwerp and looted the town in a frenzy of plundering, rape and murder known since in Antwerp by the name of the ‘Spanish Fury’. This did not enhance sympathy for Catholic Spain in the town. At the end of the 1570s, Protestant notables governed Antwerp. The mayor was a Calvinist and even though over sixty percent of the population was still Catholic, the Roman Catholic cult was only allowed in a few churches.

Spain was devotedly Roman Catholic faith and could not tolerate Protestantism in its territories. The Spanish King sent a new general to Flanders and Brabant. This was an Italian nobleman, Alexander Farnese. Farnese looked to Antwerp and he wanted to halt the Protestant progression in the Southern Netherlands. In 1579 Farnese allowed his army to plunder the country villas of the wealthy Protestant merchants around Antwerp and in 1585 he set siege to the town. Antwerp surrendered soon. Farnese was quite tolerant to the Protestant, but all Protestant preachers were banned from the town. The social decline of Antwerp that had set in slowly in 1572 now grew rapidly as the Protestant families left the town and moved to Amsterdam. After a few years the town would fall to half the population it had in 1570. Jan Massys did not see Protestantism flourish, grow to power and then be banned altogether from Antwerp.

In the painting ‘David and Bathsheba’ of Jan Massys we see immediately a central image that Massys used repeatedly in many of this pictures. He painted a magnificent nude in a certain poise and he repeated practically the same image in pictures like ‘Susannah and the Elders’, now in the Musée d’Art Ancien in Brussels and in a ‘Flora with View of Antwerp’, now in the Kunsthalle of the German town of Hamburg.

Jan Massys was a Protestant painter, but he made a picture that does not seem to have been devised in protestant piety and austerity. Massys was too much a man of Brabant and of Antwerp, a man who liked outward display of wealth, like most of the Brabanders of his time. He used a bible theme to paint a very elegant nude. Bathsheba sits on the terrace of an Italian palace and she listens lovingly to a story that Uriah tells her. She may just have come out of bath and she now lingers in the warm sun. Two young lady servants accompany her. Bathsheba is really a splendid nude. She is slender and tall. She has a long bust and longer, well-formed legs. She wears a few jewels: two armbands of gold, two necklaces with a single pearl on each, and a modest head band of red cloth. Bathsheba has withdrawn her hair so that we see a gentle, aristocratic face of a real beauty. Jan Massys must have found a svelte Antwerp beauty with a fine nose, slim but inviting lips, very thin plucked eyebrows and her face and neck have no trace of puffiness. He then used this model, or the image of ideal female prettiness he had in his mind, in several pictures over and over again.

Bathsheba holds a wonderful cloak around her waist and Jan Massys could in a very masterly way paint all the folds of this flimsy cloth without disturbing with too much chiaroscuro the general mood of the canvas. This cloth forms with Bathsheba a pyramid structure so that Jan Massys intelligently applied a structure that was now well known to artists. He really drew all attention to this central triangle, in which is the splendid figure of the biblical Venus Bathsheba. The other figures only fill in the rest of the picture, as Bathsheba steals all attention.

Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, is a cunning, tall, soldierly youth. He is dressed splendidly. Jan Massys used on Uriah darker colours so that the paleness of Bathsheba’s body is enhanced. Uriah holds one arm to his hearth and with his other arm holds two fingers high, swearing fidelity to Bathsheba. Massys painted a hunting dog next to Uriah, always a symbol of loyalty, whereas a much smaller, playful animal accompanies Bathsheba. This dog already aggressively barks at Uriah’s dog, but the dog seems to ignore with calm the attacks of the small thing that is Bathsheba’s dog. David talks. Is Uriah looking at Bathsheba? If you follow his gaze, downward, you will arrive at a flirting servant. This is the girl of the extreme right, who is washing Bathsheba’s feet. While she washes, she smilingly and mockingly eyes Uriah. She may be mocking Uriah’s oath of fidelity and flirting at the same time, alluring the Hittite into a new adventure. The second girl servant, holding a vase of water, seems to understand what is happening and she looks scornfully, though still innocently, with slight surprise also, at the washing girl and the viewer. Thereby she represents the viewer. The two girls are also marvellously dressed. Remark the details of jewels, of lace and of the magnificent red robes that Jan Massys added in the picture.

Where is King David? Jan Massys used also the right diagonal in his composition. The outline of the figures could start at the two young girls in the right lower corner and pas over Bathsheba’s head to the left top corner. There is a terrace of the royal palace and there, painted as a very small figure, stands King David watching the scene of the nude Bathsheba. The king leans out of the window to see better, in obvious interest, and we recognise him here because he wears the royal crown. So the positioning of the figures in the scene seems natural, but is in fact quite sophisticated. A girl servant kneels down to wash the feet of her mistress, but she looks at the eyes of Uriah and thus enhances the direction of the right diagonal. Massys painted another girl somewhat higher, so that the outlines of these two combined with the outline of Bathsheba would again direct the view to the right diagonal. To the right of that diagonal Jan Massys then had a free space that he could fill in with a landscape of the town of Jerusalem. But Massys’ Jerusalem is also an imaginary town, in which he mixed architectures from Antwerp, from Rome and from Florence. Overall the town looks like a town from Tuscany, but we discover at least two Greek temples, built in the Roman way, as Massys may have seen in Rome. The slender, high towers he may have seen in Florence and the robust tower on the left feels like a bell tower of a Flemish city. But the town should be in the orient, so Massys added a few palm trees and a fine garden with fountains to indicate a life of leisure and pleasure at David’s court. Here life was easy, quiet and elegant. So a peacock walks on the balustrade between the girls and Bathsheba, a symbol of flirtatious coquetry.

The picture of Jan Massys contains many details in its wealth of visual elements and stunning sophistication. Moreover, Massys really was a painter of great talent and skills. Can we love and admire a painting that looks so flamboyant and showy? Well, we have to admit that Massys presented not a gaudy scene. The figures are too sweet and too nice for that. Maybe this presentation is not anymore to our tastes, but one has to be somewhat of a curmudgeon not to smile and be happy and not to admire such beauty as of Bathsheba. Brabanders of Antwerp, Protestant or catholic, could not but appreciate such good-natured display of niceties and wealth. Antwerp Brabanders always were a little swanky and showy. Jan Massys found in Mannerism just what they liked. And, oh yes, this was a Bible scene after all.

Other Paintings:

Copyright: René Dewil Back to the navigation screen (if that screen has been closed) Last updated: January 2007
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