Embracing the Divine: Devotional Zeal and Mystical “Humanation” in Rembrandt’s Annunciation Sketch
AbstractRembrandt’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.
Copyright (c) 2012 Catherine M. Nutting
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