Artibus et Historiae no. 15 (VIII)

1987, ISSN 0391-9064

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ANTONI ZIEMBA - Rembrandt’s Landscapes as Symbol. An Attempt at an Iconological Interpretation

The paper attempts a symbolic interpretation of Rembrandt's landscape paintings and etchings. The first part outlines the methodological problems and briefly summarizes the present state of iconological and iconographic research on 17th-century Dutch landscape painting, including the traditional way of symbolizing nature in 15th - 18th-century European art; this part also defines the characteristics of, and the theoretical and practical assumptions behind, the Dutch masters' non-historical paintings and analyzes more particularly Rembrandt's thoroughly iconographic-historicizing way of thinking of nature and representing it. The second part deals with the Landscape with a Storm in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum in Braunschweig and the landscape in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in light of the Tempestas Fortunae encompassing symbolic motive. The third part is about the theme of the dying tree battered by the elements, and deals with the Omval, St. Jerome in the Desert and The Announcement to the Shepherds etchings in relation to the vanitas motive. The fourth part gives an alternative interpretation of the etching of the Three Trees representing the trees battered by wind and storm, which survives the onslaught of the elements - as exemplifying the life of the soul, which through faith in God and Christian spiritual strength is able to resist the storms of destiny. The fifth part proposes that we interpret the Landscape with the Story of the Good Samaritan in the National Museum in Cracow, as praise of Christian love of one's neighbor, as one of the prerequisites for the salvation of one's soul. The sixth part deals with the Landscape with a Castle in the Louvre, and shows it to symbolize the passing away, as a result of pride, of man's work in this world.

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