While there have been identified more than 400 original works by Rembrandt that have lived through centuries, no one doubts that in the past there existed many more which, unfortunately, have either been lost or destroyed. Today one may savor the beauty and emotional depth of a variety of portraits created by Rembrandt back in the 17th century. However, what is even more appealing for a modern viewer is Rembrandt’s paintings devoted to the Biblical themes and based on the events either from the Old or New Testament. It is hard to say why exactly, but the Biblical story of the Hebrew hero Samson, who was known to possess inordinate strength and was kind of God’s champion, was particularly interesting to Rembrandt. The art scholars attribute 5 original works by Rembrandt devoted to Samson’s life events. The Blinding of Samson (1636) is probably the most famous of them. Interestingly, it has been found that one more painting that explored the Samson motif was created by Rembrandt almost immediately after The Blinding of Samson. The Avenge by Samson (1638) was completed two years later and was kept in a private collection of Rembrandt’s powerful patron Prince Frederick Hendrick of Orange during his lifetime. Allegedly, it was destroyed during the fire of 1712 or was stolen at the moment of panic in the burning house where it was kept.
This paper seeks to explore the meaning, historical context and the form of The Blinding of Samson and, based on this research, hypothesize what the details of The Avenge of Samson might have been. It also focuses on the place these artworks had/might have had in the career of their author – Rembrandt van Rijn.
The Blinding of Samson was created back in 1636. At that time, artists typically used natural materials that they made themselves, most often oil. The Blinding of Samson is not an exception to that