Dogs and Dogma: Perception and revelation in Rembrandt's presentation in the temple, c. 1640
This essay interprets Rembrandts etching The Presentation in the Temple as a visual exposition of seventeenth-century ideas about art, nature, and God. Rembrandt created a composition that prompted meditation about humans capacity to know God through their perception of the visible world. As such, he promoted art as a humanistic tool for contemplation by drawing attention to its ability to elicit spiritual themes through the observation of human and animal nature. The medium of etching further allowed Rembrandt to contrast light and dark, as well as line and tone, underscoring how physical sight can lead to spiritual insight. His inclusion of a dog in the etching, it is argued, is a rhetorical device that prompts the viewer to contemplate the material, everyday world in order to meditate on his or her own mortality and the need for redemption. Rembrandts inclusion of this dog relates to the capacity of humans to see and perceive in both physical and spiritual terms. Like Simeons revelation of Jesus-as-Messiah in the Presentation in the Temple, Rembrandt suggested that the role of art is toreveal truths that are not readily apparent.
Department of Art
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa
Sutton, Elizabeth, "Dogs and Dogma: Perception and revelation in Rembrandt's presentation in the temple, c. 1640" (2016). Faculty Publications. 1075.