Belshazzar's Feast (Rembrandt)
|Material||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||167.6 cm × 209.2 cm (66.0 in × 82.4 in)|
|Location||National Gallery, London|
The story of Belshazzar and the writing on the wall originates in the Old Testament Book of Daniel. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar looted the Temple in Jerusalem and has stolen the sacred artefacts such as golden cups. His son Belshazzar used these cups for a great feast where the hand of God appeared and wrote the inscription on the wall prophesizing the downfall of Belshazzar's reign.
The inscription on the wall is an interesting element in this painting. Rembrandt lived in the Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam and "derived the form of Hebrew inscription from a book by his friend, the learned Rabbi and printer, Menasseh ben Israel, yet mistranscribed one of the characters and arranged them in columns, rather than right to left, as Hebrew is written." This last detail is essential as it relates to the question of why Belshazzar and his advisers were not able to decipher the inscription and had to send for Daniel to help them with it. There seem to exist no plausible explanation why the Babylonian priests were unable to decipher the writing. It does not seem very plausible that the simple measure of writing vertically instead of horizontally rendered the text incomprehensible to the Babylonians.
Rembrandt's handling of painting materials and his painting technique in Belshazzar's Feast are both exceptional and do not compare to any of his other works. The palette of this painting is unusually rich encompassing such pigments as vermilion, smalt, lead-tin-yellow, yellow and red lakes, ochres and azurite.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rembrandt - Het feestmaal van Belsazar.|
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- "Rembrandt, Belshazzars's Feast". National Gallery London. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
- "Rembrandt, Belshazzar's Feast". Colourlex. Retrieved 6 April 2015.