OIL PAINTING: The Prophet Jeremiah, 1630
This well-preserved painting The Prophet Jeremiah is one of the finest paintings of Rembrandt's Leiden period. For many years it was incorrectly identified but it certainly shows Jeremiah; who had prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, capital of Judah, by Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah, chapters 32, 33), lamenting over the destruction of the city. In the distance on the left a man at the top of the steps holds clenched fists to his eyes: this is the last king of Judah, Zedekiah, who was blinded by Nebuchadnezzar. The prominent domed building in the background is probably Solomon's Temple.
As we can see in The Prophet Jeremiah , Jeremiah's pose, his head supported by his hand, is a traditional attitude of melancholy: his elbow rests on a large book which is inscribed 'Bibel' on the edge of the pages, probably a much later addition to the painting. The book is presumably meant to be his own Book of Jeremiah or the Book of Lamentations. The lighting of the figure is particularly effective with the foreground and the right side of the prophet's face in shadow and his robe outlined against the rock. Rembrandt has used the blunt end of his brush to scratch details of the foliage, Jeremiah's beard and the fastenings of his tunic in the wet paint, a characteristic technique of his early years.