In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

toward the catastrophe' (p 30). It is not a new interpretation of the hero or of the play - not, ultimately, a 'reading' at all - but it illuminates a wide variety of peripheral and central issues, including some fundamental 'critical questions: This achievement is ample evidence - and a fitting memorial - of Marion Smith's very special literary sensibility. (RICHARD HILLMAN) William H. Halewood. Six Subjects of Reformation Art: A Preface to Rembrandt University of Toronto Press. xiv, "53, illus. $27.50, $14.95 paper Halewood's remarkable book reopens a subject which has demanded much more attention than it has received in recent years. The relations between the Protestant Reformation in general, and Reformed (or Calvinist ) theology in particular, have too often been covered by cliches, rather than by careful historical analysis. To be sure, there have been a few relevant and serious monographs on the subject in our century: Leon Wencelius's Calvin et Rembrandt (1937), along with his L'EstMtique de Calvin, is a significant theoretical treatment, but is generally thought to have exaggerated Calvin's influence, while Rembrandt and the Gospel by W.A. Vissert Hooft pays too little heed to the influences of specifically Reformed teaching. Works by Rotermund, Weber, and Tupel have emphasized Rembrandt's personal reading of the Bible or his approach to the Bible through the iconographical tradition, but still we have needed a careful analysis of Rembrandt's work in the historical contexts not only of the Bible and artistic tradition, but also of the ambience of Dutch Reformed thought and teaching within which the master lived. Halewood has now given us such a book. The six subjects to which the title refers are the raising of Lazarus, the Prodigal Son, the preaching ofjesus and John, bleSSings and healings, the conversion of Paul, and the crucifixion. Each is perceptively treated. Halewood conSistently makes fine visual differentiations between Rembrandt and other artists, both Roman Catholic and Reformed, differentiations which advance our understanding of the individual artists and their works, and of the overall theological commitments which lie both in the religiOUS background and the visual foreground . Quotations from the formers of Protestant thought are supplied frequently, but only when directly apposite, and they never seem extraneous. The subject of Christ blessing the children may illustrate Halewood's method. This was a favourite among Protestant artists, but not for sentimental reasons as it has too often become in later centuries. Instead it epitomized the underlying Reformation insistence upon salvation only by the grace of God, rather than by works. Use of this scene allowed Reformed theologians and artists alike to suggest that children lacked 412 LETTERS IN CANADA 1982 sufficient opportunity to develop the works which the Roman system required, and yet they were accepted by Christ, despite the protests of his disciples. Equally useful for Reformation purposes, the scene could be interpreted as rebutting sectarian (especially Anabaptist) teachers who rejected infant baptism on the grounds that children should not be baptized as acceptable to Cod until they had reached the age of discretion, whereas the New Testament story indicates that Christ did not demand any such conscious choice from those whom he would bless. Theological quotations are used to make both of these important points, and thus explain and illuminate one of the favourite themes of Reformation art. Studies of this kind sometimes see scholars falling into two different but dangerous traps, both of which Halewood avoids. Thus he does not postulate particularized 'sources' in the great theologians that Rembrandt had to know; nor does he demand a broad scholarly knowledge of Reformation theology in general on the artist's part. All that he requires is what 'an intelligent layman living in a theolOgically sensitive place and time would have been fairly certain to know' (pp 136 and ix). His subject, as he puts it, 'is the influence of a general tradition, though one with clear outlines: and his arguments show that he is fully aware of those outlines which may convincingly be expected to have influenced an artist in seventeenth-century Holland. Halewood's book moves our understanding forward in significant ways, and should stimulate other competent scholars to investigate other phases of...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 411-413
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.