Using the chiaroscuro technique, the treatment of light and dark to create the illusion of three-dimensional effects on two-dimensional paintings, Rembrandt van Rijn, born in the Netherlands, garnered worldwide attention. Although he was a highly praised artist, he struggled with severe loneliness. He lost three of his children, as they died shortly after birth. Since his wife suffered from tuberculosis, she also died young. In addition to struggling with private grief, he failed to achieve eternal glory as an artist. With so much pride in himself, he often drew paintings in a way that did not adhere to the styles that his customers wanted, making them reject him. As a result, he struggled through poverty in his later years. In 1669, the year when he died, Rembrandt drew a painting called The Return of the Prodigal Son. This painting became popular, as it appears to deliver several values that Rembrandt held during his lifetime. This painting depicts a situation where a prodigal son is treated by his father with generosity upon his return, despite the fact that he wasted a fortune. With this depiction, Rembrandt appeared to deliver the importance of reconciliation and forgiveness, allowing viewers to learn that he did not hold a bitter grudge against the world despite his private grief and failed career. However, as the prodigal son’s older brother stands on the right side of the painting with a frown of disapproval on his face, Rembrandt also appeared to deliver the message that life is full of unending problems.
Yejin Hwang Staff Reporter
1. What is the chiaroscuro technique?
2. Why did Rembrandt van Rijn struggle through poverty in his later years?
3. What were the messages that Rembrandt appeared to deliver with his painting called The Return of the Prodigal Son?
1. What was your first impression when you saw The Return of the Prodigal Son?
2. If you were an artist, would you be interested in using the chiaroscuro technique?
3. If you were an aritist, what kinds of values would you have wanted to deliver through your artworks?
4. Do you know any other paintings drawn by Rembrandt?