REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn
(b. 1606, Leiden, d. 1669, Amsterdam)
St John the Baptist Preachingc. 1634
Oil on canvas laid down on panel, 62 x 80 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
Catalogue number: Bredius 555.
In the 1630s, landscapes were to remain in the background of Rembrandt's biblical paintings. The landscape backgrounds in these paintings - views through on the left, punctuated by impressive buildings - succeed in varying measure in avoiding the feel of a backdrop rather than real space.
In the present painting the Precursor of Christ, having spent his entire life to date in the wilderness, enters the world to address the multitude. The countryside and its properties are part of John's message and part of Rembrandt's scene - the Jordan valley is ready to be filled, the distant hilltop to be lowered.
There are preparatory drawings connected with this painting.