艺术品展示 / 油画


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画 家:
伦勃朗(Rembrandt van Rijn)
1664 年
120 x 101 cm
美国国家美术馆(National Gallery of Art, Washington DC)

      In a moment of inner anguish Lucretia stands, with arms outstretched, just prior to her act of suicide. Although her body faces the viewer, she looks down toward the sharply pointed dagger clenched in her right hand. She holds her left hand open at the same height as the right, as though part of her resists completing the self-destructive act. The tension surrounding that awful moment emphasizes the human drama of a woman caught in the moral dilemma of choosing between life and honor, a choice that would take on symbolic connotations.

      The tragedy of Lucretia’s impending suicide is intensified in the contrast Rembrandt develops between her elegant attire and the poignancy of her gesture and expressions. Richly adorned with golden diadem, pearl earrings, pearl necklace, and a chain with a golden pendant from which hangs a tear-shaped pearl, she is a regal figure. Her golden dress with a cape that falls over her out-stretched arms adds to her splendor. Rembrandt, however, arranged her robes so as to emphasize her vulnerability. The clasps that hook her dress at the bodice hang unfastened. With her dress parted, her chest covered only by the white chemise that fits so gracefully, she is about to thrust the dagger into her heart.

      Rembrandt’s late paintings, whether portraits, biblical accounts, or mythological stories, often take on an almost sacramental character in the way that the artist confronts the viewer with his images. His broad execution, rich colors, impressive use of chiaroscuro, and iconic compositional structure give these works unparalleled forcefulness. In Lucretia, all of these elements of his late style are evident. Particularly remarkable in this painting is his use of chiaroscuro to transform an essentially symmetrical and static pose into an active one. Lucretia is lit not from the front but from the left. Light thus strikes her head, right arm, and shoulder. The dagger blade glistens against her white cuff. Although her left arm is thrown into shadow, her outstretched left hand catches the light. Through these subtle means of emphasis, which until the mid-1980s had been hidden by thick, discolored layers of varnish, Rembrandt heightened the drama by reinforcing the psychological and physical tension of the scene.

      Rembrandt painted this image using a broad range of techniques. He modeled the face quite densely by applying a sequence of paint layers. Some layers, such as the soft lavenders that model the shaded portions of the lower cheeks and chin, are quite smooth. Others, such as the pinks and oranges that highlight the cheekbones and the yellowish-whitish areas on the nose and forehead, are brushed on more vigorously. The eyes, nose, and mouth are broadly rendered. Specifics of eyebrows, eyelids, pupils of the eyes, nostrils, and lips were of little concern to the artist; instead he heightened and accented them with deft touches of rust-colored paint. One particularly bold stroke of ocher paint defines the upper left edge of the top lip.

      Rembrandt varied his painting techniques in Lucretia’s cape and dress according to the play of light falling across her figure. Where light hits her right arm, Rembrandt cast a golden tone with a rich mixture of yellow, white, red, and salmon-colored paints. Under the lightest areas of the shoulder, he first laid in a light gray layer to give an added luminosity to the paints. On the shaded left sleeve, the paint is much less dense. A deep brown and reddish brown layer covering the Ground in this area forms the basis for the sleeve’s tonality. Over it, Rembrandt, often with a dry brush, applied yellow, greenish yellow, red, and white highlights. In certain instances, for example, in a series of black strokes that shade part of the sleeve, he clearly used a palette knife as well as a brush.

      Rembrandt utilized the palette knife even more frequently in the white of the left sleeve. Here he applied a rather dry paint onto the underlying brown layer to suggest the material’s transparency. More extensive use of the palette knife is seen in the dress near Lucretia’s waist. Here he spread broader areas of light-ocher paint with the knife to suggest the luminous character of the fabric. In general, the treatment of this area of the dress resembles that of the left sleeve where the underlying dark brown paint becomes an important ingredient in the overall color tonality. The one area with thick highlights in the dress is the belt, but even here Rembrandt did not really overlap paints. The accents of yellow, orange, and white are loosely applied and do not define the belt to any great degree.

      Stylistically, this painting resembles the so-called Jewish Bride in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. The head of Lucretia is extremely close in type and in concept to that of the bride: both are built up in a comparable fashion. Remarkably similar are the ways in which the features are modeled with dense and somewhat roughly brushed strokes of paint. The similarities extend to the technique for the modeling of the pearls and even for indicating the gold diadem in the back of the hair. While most of the robes in the Jewish Bride are more densely painted than those of Lucretia and are built up almost exclusively with a palette knife, in the shaded area under the collar of the man Rembrandt used a modeling technique very similar to that seen in Lucretia’s left arm. Here he also used a brownish Imprimatura layer for the base collar of the robe and accented it lightly with a series of thin strokes of red paint applied with a palette knife.

      Similarities in painting technique also exist between this figure of Lucretia and that in Minneapolis, even though the latter work was painted two years later, in 1666. As is appropriate to its starker concept, Rembrandt applied his paints in a more angular fashion in the Minneapolis version than he did in the Washington painting. Still, the modeling of the facial features is once again comparable. One notices in particular the way the top lip is defined with a bold stroke of flesh-colored paint along its upper edge. Also similar is the use of an Imprimatura layer as a base color of the left sleeve, and finally, the structure of the hand holding the dagger.



  After learning the fundamentals of drawing and painting in his native Leiden, Rembrandt van Rijn went to Amsterdam in 1624 to study for six months with Pieter Lastman (1583–1633), a famous history painter. Upon completion of his training Rembrandt returned to Leiden. Around 1632 he moved to Amsterdam, quickly establishing himself as the town’s leading artist. He received many commissions for portraits and history paintings, and attracted a number of students who came to learn his method of painting.

  The tragic story of Lucretia, recounted by Livy, took place in Rome in the sixth century BC during the reign of the tyrannical ruler Tarquinius Superbus. Rembrandt portrays Lucretia in utter anguish, right before her act of suicide. The tension surrounding that awful moment poignantly captures the moral dilemma of a woman forced to choose between life and honor.

  Lucretia's husband, Collatinus, had boasted to his fellow soldiers that her loyalty and virtue were greater than that of their wives. Taking him up on the challenge, the men immediately rode to Rome where they discovered Lucretia and her handmaidens spinning wool. Lucretia's very virtue enflamed the desire of Sextus Tarquinius, son of the tyrant, who secretly returned to the house a few days later. Lucretia received him as an honored guest, but he later betrayed that hospitality by entering her chamber and threatening to kill her if she did not yield to him. The next day Lucretia summoned her father and husband, disclosed what had happened, and told them that, even though they deemed her an innocent victim, she was determined to end her life in order to reclaim her honor. Lucretia then drew a knife from her robe, drove it into her heart, and died. Overwhelmed by grief and anger, Lucretia’s father, her husband, and two accompanying friends swore to avenge her death. Lucretia's rape and death triggered a revolt that led to the overthrow of monarchical tyranny and the creation of the Roman Republic.