Rembrandts Labourers in the Vineyard 1637

THE SCANDAL OF GRACE: ‘The Parable of the labourers in the Vineyard’ by Rembrandt

There comes Rembrandt delivering yet another masterpiece. ‘Say what? A masterpiece? Well it doesn’t look like one.’ The modern eye of observation often dulls the appreciation of a painter whose paintings are professed forms of distortion and abstraction. The soul of the painting has to be discovered and drawn from within one’s own self. Once detected it reveals to us the genius of the ‘painter of painters.’

Rembrandt’s paintings rarely depict faithful forms or vibrant colours. What then was the source of his mastery? The answer lies with his tryst with light and obscurity.  Rembrandt employed darkness to drive out light and vice versa. In addition, he also created an aura of partial radiance wherein some parts are easily understandable to the eye while the others are lost in oblivion. 

Take for example the painting in consideration. It recalls the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 20, verse 1 to 16. In the larger narrative sequence, in the preceding story Peter attempts to secure his reward for ‘leaving everything and following’ Jesus. Answering Peter’s question and illustrating the theme of rewards, Jesus embarks upon a parable.

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