In His Biblical Scenes, the 17th-Century Dutch Painter Jan Steen Rivals Rembrandt Himself

Like Rembrandt’s, Steen’s art reflects a tremendous effort to humanize Jewish figures.

From The Mocking of Samson by Jan Steen, 1675-1676. Wikipedia.

From The Mocking of Samson by Jan Steen, 1675-1676. Wikipedia.

Menachem Wecker
Observation
May 3 2018
About the author

Menachem Wecker, a freelance journalist based in Washington DC, covers art, culture, religion, and education for a variety of publications.

In a dimly-lit palace, an entourage of some 50 figures surrounds the biblical Samson, his hands shackled behind his back but his vision still intact. An African clad in Oriental garb and holding a dagger in his right hand points with his left to his eyes, in a gruesome foreshadowing of the hero’s blinding. The hair clippings at Samson’s feet testify to the dwindling of his Herculean strength; dwarves pull at the ropes tied to his feet.

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More about: Arts & Culture, Hebrew Bible, Jan Steen, Rembrandt