Embracing the Divine: Devotional Zeal and Mystical “Humanation” in Rembrandt’s Annunciation Sketch

  • Catherine M. Nutting University of Victoria
Keywords: Rembrandt, mystical, divine, Annunciation, Humanation, religion, society, culture, Illumine, CSRS, UVic, University of Victoria, Centre for Studies in Religion and Society

Abstract

Rembrandt’s 17th–century sketches of radical religious transformation illuminate the inner workings of spiritual conviction and reveal the religious tone of Rembrandt’s society. But they also privilege psychology over narrative, and use emotionally charged gestures to elucidate human responses to divine presence. In particular, Rembrandt develops the symbol of the divine touch, which I argue parallels the 17th–century Dutch absorption in debates about the workings of God’s grace. The symbolic physical closeness that characterises Rembrandt’s Old and New Testament subjects is grounded in the Reformation emphasis on personally knowing a magnanimous God, which is in turn rooted in concepts of the mystical marriage between God and “saved humanity,” themes that underlie Rembrandt’s unusual Annunciation sketch.

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Published
2014-11-14
How to Cite
Nutting, Catherine M. 2014. “Embracing the Divine: Devotional Zeal and Mystical ‘Humanation’ in Rembrandt’s Annunciation Sketch”. Illumine: A Journal of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society 11 (1). Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 51-81. https://doi.org/10.18357/illumine.nuttingcm.1112012.
Section
Articles