Tag Archives: Amsterdam

Rembrandt

The Hundred Guilder print

Side-note: One of my favorite artists, Rembrandt, was a boy in the Netherlands while the Pilgrims were there. When I was a new Sunday-school teacher, I joked that everything I knew about the Bible came from looking at Rembrandt paintings. A benefit of the Netherlands being a haven for religious minorities was that there was a Jewish quarter in Amsterdam. Rembrandt lived in and had friends there. He depicted Christ and the Holy Family as Jews (which they were, of course), using his friends as models. This was a departure from tradition. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/rmbt/hd_rmbt.htm
Look at Christ’s hands in the Hundred Guilder print. Rembrandt drew with a steel stylus, cutting lines into a copper plate. Yeah, he could draw.

https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/1.5160992
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/371732

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There were some downsides

After they moved to Leiden in the Netherlands, the Pilgrims discovered just one hitch—well, okay, a few hitches: Spain had the idea that a global Spanish Empire (paid for with buttloads of gold from the New World) would be a good thing. Spain was ardently Catholic and not tolerant of other people’s religions. There’d been a 12-year truce between Spain and Holland that was about to end while the Pilgrims were there. If you lived in Holland in the early 1600s and kept up on current events, you understood that things could go sideways pretty quickly. Not only that, the Pilgrim kids were becoming more Dutch than English. Dutch tolerance was not only for religion but for libertine lifestyles. If you’re a strict Calvinist you don’t want your kids lured away to wallow in the fleshpots of Leiden.*

A couple of Dutch wantons.

* The Pilgrims were serious about their faith and it must have been exhausting. I’m exhausted just from writing this: Sunday morning service began at eight o’clock with an hour of prayers, then a 3-hour sermon, then lunch (dessert was always red Jello with those little marshmallows in it), then another sermon, then discussion. They stood for most of it (too much risk of falling asleep if they sat, I suppose)—no kneeling; kneeling reminded them of Catholicism or the Church of England. They wore sober-looking clothes; men & women were kept separate during service; no church building; no organ—hymns were sung with no instruments. There’s a painting of a church service, The Pilgrim Fathers, in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. The artist August Allebé (1857-1878) mixed up the crowd to make an interesting composition, but generally the ladies and kids sit in front, the gents stand in the back. They look to be in a store-house with a dirt floor. https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/RP-P-1905-2755

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Don’t forget: I wrote another Western Civ User’s Guide! Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space.