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Rembrandt: Seeking Closure in Classical Narratives Open Access Deposited

In many of Rembrandt’s depictions of mythical themes, he humanized the fantastical. Through realism and austere symbology, Rembrandt innovated classical narratives. Three of Rembrandt’s late works highlight the apex of his study of the complex emotion underlying the mythical characters of Lucretia and Callisto. Both women were rape victims immortalized in moments of shame. Rembrandt’s model for Woman Bathing in a Stream, housed at the National Gallery in London, may have been his mistress, Hendrickje Stoffels, who was ostracized by society for unchaste acts. Thus, sexual shaming was a topic that interested Rembrandt both artistically and personally. This paper will draw on previous scholarship to explore Rembrandt’s inspiration for and manipulation of classical narratives. Moreover, it will consider how Rembrandt’s deeply emotional depictions of women echo the struggles pervading his personal life at the time of their creation.

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