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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

Faust

Artist

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
Leiden 1606 – Amsterdam 1669

Title

Faust

Date

About 1652

Materials

Etching, drypoint, engraving, state IV/VII

Dimensions

21.5 x 16.5 cm (sheet), 21 x 16 cm (platemark)

Credits

Gift of Freda and Irwin Browns, inv. 2018.145

Collection

Graphic Arts

The subject of this print remains a mystery. It has been alternately interpreted as an alchemist in his studio and as Dr. Faust, whose legendary pact with the Devil was immortalized in the literature of Christopher Marlowe and, later, Goethe. Yet Rembrandt’s print does not correspond directly to either subject. Surrounded by books and scientific instruments, an elderly man looks up from his work, transfixed by a luminous apparition before him, whose precise meaning, much like faith, is indecipherable. Whatever the exact subject, here Rembrandt portrays two worlds in communion: the earthly, scientific world on the one hand, and the divine, spiritual world on the other.

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