The Rich Fool (1627) by Rembrandt



This 1627 painting by Rembrandt depicts the fool from the parable told by Jesus to the masses in the Gospel of Luke: One of the multitude said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" He said to them, "Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man's life doesn't consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses." He spoke a parable to them, saying, "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly. He reasoned within himself, saying, 'What will I do, because I don't have room to store my crops?' He said, 'This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns, and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. I will tell my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, be merry."' "But God said to him, 'You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared—whose will they be?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:13-21) In the painting, the man is seen in one of his rooms overflowing with books and manuscripts (some written in Hebrew); in the 17th century, stacks of books were taken as a visual sign of vanity. The man examines a golden coin by light of the only candle in the room.

Born July 15, 1606 in the city of Leiden, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was a Dutch painter and etcher who would become known as one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European history, and the most important in Dutch history. Religious matters and scenes come up often in Rembrandt's works, and his own personal life was fraught with the religious tension of the Reformation; his mother was a Roman Catholic, and his father belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church. As a youth Rembrandt attended Latin school, but had a much more fervent interest in painting, which led to him being apprenticed to a Leiden history painter by the name of Jacob van Swanenburgh, for three years. After a brief but important apprenticeship to Pieter Lastman (for six months), Rembrandt eventually opened up his own workshop/studio in 1624 (or 1625), and soon after began accepting students. In 1629, Rembrandt was discovered by Dutch statesman Constantijn Huygens, the father of Dutch mathematician and physicist Christiaan Huygens; Constantijn would procure important commissions for Rembrandt from the court of The Hague, and the exposure led to Prince Frederik Hendrik continuing to buy Rembrandt paintings until 1646. Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam in 1631, and there would enjoy tremendous success as a portraitist, and would eventually marry Saskia van Uylenburgh, the cousin of a familiar art dealer. After awhile they settled in the upscale 'Breestraat,' what was then becoming the Jewish quarter, and here Rembrandt would find models for his Old Testament scenes. However, the mortgage for this residence led him to financial problems later in life. Their marriage suffered many difficulties, with three of their four children dying shortly after birth, and Saskia dying a year after the third child's death. Rembrandt would eventually have a daughter, Cornelia, by Hendrickje Stoffels, who was originally his maid, though they were not married by church law at the time and as a result Hendrickje was banned from receiving communion by the Dutch Reformed Church. Rembrandt would go on to outlive both Hendrickje as well as his son, Titus, but die a year later in 1669. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery of Westerkerk, a Protestant church in Amsterdam.



Includes a border on all sides to allow for matting and framing.