Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Painting Of The Week – Rembrandt van Rijn, Flora

Painting of the Week

Painting Of The Week – Rembrandt van Rijn, Flora

Rembrandt painted his beloved wife Saskia van Uylenburgh as Flora, goddess of spring and flowers, three times: in 1634, 1635 (Saskia as Flora, National Gallery of London, UK) and 1641 (Saskia with a red flower, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Germany).

Today we are going to focus on the earliest portrait, from 1634. It was a happy year for Rembrandt – the year of their marriage. In this work he combined elements of pastoral and historical portraits and the painting visibly shows the love and admiration the artist felt for the young woman.

Rembrandt van Rijn Flora saskia van uylenburgh as flora

Saskia van Uylenburgh as Flora, Rembrandt van Rijn, Hermitage Museum

Saskia van Uylenburgh (1612 – 1642) was the daughter of the burgomaster of Leeuwarden and a cousin of the art dealer Hendrick van Uylenburgh for whom Rembrandt worked for four years between 1631 and 1635. Marriage with Saskia brought him a substantial dowry as well as the true love of his life and patrician status. During the 1630s Saskia herself was to be the subject of the largest number of single portraits.

Three of their children died shortly after birth and were buried in the nearby Zuiderkerk. The sole survivor was Titus, who was named after his mother’s sister Titia (Tietje) van Uylenburgh. Saskia died the year after he was born, in Amsterdam, aged 29, probably from tuberculosis. She was buried in the Oude Kerk.


Saskia allowed Rembrandt to use their son’s inheritance as long as he did not remarry. If Titus died without issue, Rembrandt would be the heir of the movable property. Rembrandt hired Geertje Dircx as a wetnurse; in 1649 she expected him to marry her. The next year Rembrandt had her locked up in a house of correction when Hendrickje Stoffels became his new housekeeper and mistress. In 1662 Rembrandt, has been in financial trouble for several years, sold Saskia’s grave. Hendrickje died the following year.

Rembrandt van Rijn Flora

Flora, Fresco de Stabia. Siglo I a.C., Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

But coming back to the painting itself. In Roman religion, Flora was the goddess of flowers and fertility. Her festival, the Floralia (Apr. 28 – May 1) was celebrated with great cheerfulness, happiness and sexual extravagance. The legend says that one spring day, she was walking through the fields when Zephyrus, the wind of spring saw her and fell in love with her. He stole her away and they married. To prove his love for her he allowed her to reign over all the flowers in gardens, meadows and cultivated fields. Among the many gifts that the goddess brings to humans, together with an infinite variety of flowers is honey.

Rembrandt depicted the woman he loved as a woman of pleasant appearance, adorned with jewels and precious fabrics. The pathos of splendor and sharp realism rather than the divine beauty of the richly dressed young woman suggest that the portrait may have been a preliminary study for a historical or biblical figure of a woman that Rembrandt was painting around this time. But it’s only an assumption!

Find out more:


Rembrandt Self-Portrait With Curly Hair


Rembrandt And His Saddest Love Story


410 Years Ago Rembrandt Was Born, Check Out His Six Magnificent Self-Portaits

     


Art Historian, huge fan of Giorgione and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Founder and CEO of DailyArtMagazine.com and DailyArt mobile app. But to be honest, her greatest accomplishment is being the owner of Pimpek the Cat.

Comments

More in Painting of the Week

  • The Night Watch Rembrandt The Night Watch Rembrandt

    Baroque

    15 Things You May Not Know About The Night Watch by Rembrandt

    By

    The Night Watch painted by Rembrandt van Rijn is a colossal (363 × 437 cm) and most famous canvas created by the artist. It is one of the icons of Western art history. Painted in 1642, at the peak of the Dutch Golden Age, it depicts the eponymous...

  • Baroque

    Artemisia Gentileschi: A Changing Landscape for the Discourse of Art History

    By

    Much 16th and 17th century art focuses on mythological tropes and origin stories which are deeply embedded in misogyny and sexual violence. Gendered violence was aetheticised, rape heroised. In accordance with ‘the male gaze’, these were not paintings made for public collections. They were commissioned for...

  • Baroque

    Wishes & Streams: Trevi Fountain in Rome

    By

    With another heat wave hitting Europe this summer, I was reminded of my visit to Rome during the last heat wave with crowds clamoring around fountains and spouts around the city. The most crowded and famous being the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi). The largest fountain...

  • Art State of Mind

    Sixth Sense? Allegories of Senses in Painting

    By

    How to show our sensual experiences visually? The human senses made out one of the most appealing subjects for European painters, especially that since the Middle Ages they had rather negative connotations, being considered as lustful and hence leading to sin. And as we all know,...

  • Art History 101

    How to Become an Old Master? Turn on the Youtube First!

    By

    I can’t draw, I can’t paint, I can’t sculpt or do pottery. But I can watch videos on Rijksmuseum Youtube channel called RijksCreative and imagine I’m a Great Master, too. If you have canvas and brushes, and some more talent than I do, you can do...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy