||Rembrant Van Rijn (1606–1669), Dutch artist. Born in Leyden, he was probably reared in Calvinism, the official religion of Holland. There have been claims that Rembrandt was of Jewish origin but these are based on false premises. It has been suggested that his choice of a home in Amsterdam's Breestraat was motivated by its proximity to the city's small Jewish settlement. In actual fact quite a few artists resided in this quarter. Rembrandt was friendly with two Sephardi Jews one of whom was the physician Ephraim Hezekiah Bueno (Bonus). The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam owns Rembrandt's small oil portrait of Ephraim Bueno, a preliminary study for the etching of 1647. The other was Manasseh Ben Israel; Rembrandt's etching of him in 1636 is supposed to have been based on a painted portrait that has disappeared. Contrary to common belief, the four tiny biblical etchings which are found in most copies of Manasseh's book, Piedra Gloriosa, o de la Estatua de Nebuchadnesar ("The Glorious Stone, or Nebuchadnezzar's Statue," 1655) are not the ones commissioned from Rembrandt. His plates were not found acceptable on religious rather than aesthetic grounds, and a new commission was accordingly given to another artist - possibly the Jewish copper engraver Shalom Italia.
Evidence of Rembrandt's artistic interest in the local Jews is provided by his numerous drawings, in pen and bister, or black chalk, of bearded old Jews in long coats. His etching known as "The Synagogue" (1648) shows nine Jews and not a minyan (ten Jews) as has been stated. Nor is it any longer agreed that the setting is a synagogue building; and it has been suggested that the picture should be retitled, "A Scene in the Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam." "The Bridal Couple" more widely known as "The Jewish Bride" (in the Rijksmuseum, painted after 1665) may not be a portrait of Jews at all, though one scholar maintains that the sitters are the Jewish poet, Miguel de Barrios, and his wife Abigail de Pina. A number of portraits assigned to Rembrandt, including some that may be works by his pupils, are believed to be of Jews, though the titles alone, often supplied by dealers, are not sufficient proof. The sole documentary evidence that Rembrandt found patrons among the well-to-do Sephardim of Amsterdam is a deposition concerning a disagreement between the artist and a certain Diego d'Andrade over a portrait of a young woman (perhaps Diego's daughter) which the patron had found unsatisfactory. This painting has, very tentatively, been identified as one in a private collection in Toronto. All identifications of portraits of unknown Jews based on "racial" features are tentative, though in certain cases the physiognomy and style of clothing appear to be more persuasive than in others. Jewish sitters have thus been claimed for as many as 40 oils, but the number is open to challenge. It is assumed that quite often Jewish beggars, who were poverty-stricken Ashkenazi refugees from Poland, served as paid models whom the artist clothed in rich garments for biblical or mythological compositions.
Among Rembrandt's most celebrated oils on Old Testament themes in major public collections the following must be named: "Samson and Delilah" (1628, Berlin-Dahlem); "Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem" (1630, Amsterdam); "Saul and David" (1631, Frankfort); "Sacrifice of Abraham" (1635, Leningrad); "Samson Threatening his Father-in-law" (1635, Berlin-Dahlem); "Blinding of Samson" (1636, Frankfort); "The Angel Leaving the Family of Tobias" (1637, Paris); "Samson's Wedding Feast" (1638, Dresden); "Sacrifice of Manoah" (1641, Dresden); "David's Farewell to Jonathan" (1642, Leningrad); "Bathsheba at her Toilet" (1643, New York); "Joseph's Dream" (1645, Berlin-Dahlem); "Susanna and the Elders" (1647, Berlin-Dahlem); "The Vision of Daniel" (1650, Berlin-Dahlem); "Bathsheba" (1654, Paris); "Joseph Accused by Potiphar's Wife" (1655, Berlin-Dahlem); "Saul and David" (c. 1655, The Hague); "Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph" (1656, Kassel); "Moses Holding the Tablets of the Law" (1659, Berlin-Dahlem).