Rembrandt (1606-1669), famous for painting influential Christianity inspired European paintings, created The Blinding of Samson. He remained well respected throughout his painting career. Rembrandt expanded his education and knowledge in art work, later taught many famous Dutch painters. He was obsessed with learning intricate details of images portrayed in paintings. His paintings are full of clear understandable symbolic meanings and interpretations. Understanding the message and presentations of artwork he created was strongly important to him. Iconography or image writing his Remebrandts trademarks portrayed in his paintings.
Rembrandt’s use of images may have been controversial with Jews of this time. Jewish religions strongly oppose graven images, sometimes meaning symbols or representations of something. The coveted painting, The Blinding of Samson, uses very clear, strong symbolic images translating a famous biblical story. Everyone heard the story about Samson and Delilah. Samson was one of the Israel judges in the days of the bible. He was special because he had supernatural strength. Samson is often referred to as a Herculean figure, a Greek mythological representation of superior strength.
Samson retained his supernatural strength until he met Delilah. Delilah was his worst enemy, betraying him, eventually bringing him to death. Lighting and carefully selected colors are used in Blinding of Samson painting portraying evil actions, an enemy attack, done in secrecy, to the audience. The knives, several knights with clenched fists, all ganging up on one man immediately portrays a very hostile, violent scene. Darkened shades and coloring surrounds the area where violence is taking place. Brightness, daylight glow surrounds Delilah, with Samson’s hair locks, secrets of his supernatural strength, in her hand.
The daybright shades the artists used matches Delilah’s facial expressions, happiness, delight, pleasure. The lighted background coloring contrasting with the dark coloring where secretive activity is taking place clearly demonstrates one of the main parts of the story. Rembrandt used unmistakable body positions and actions to get the point of the story across to the viewers. The wide stance of the knight holding the knife, a threatening, stabbing position, crossed fists of another knight on top of Samson Body positions of knights are in a fighting position.
Besides the content itself in this painting, coloring, shading, contrast, such as going from extreme dark to extreme light, the angles of the content-clenched foot, the dome shaped covering are all used to clarify the story. All of these techniques are used to give a subliminal feeling or image of the painting. Rembrandt was famous for using iconography, or image enhancing techniques in his paintings. Image specialties coincide with biblical stories. The painting is only a visual version of a story everyone has heard of. When interpreting any story from the bible, logic and common sense must be applied.
Was it possible a human person could have Herculean strength only know to exist in Greek mythology? The painting as well as the story itself may be an underhanded message the people closest to you can be your downfall. We are taught Samson loved Delilah. Until he had emotions for someone else, he kept his strength. When emotions are exchanged, that person loses power. The message behind the painting, as with all artwork is left up to the viewer’s interpretation. A person betrayed in relationships may purchase this artwork as a reminder to be cautious.