Rembrandt's Samson Tells a Riddle at His Feast

1145 WordsDec 7, 20095 Pages
The distinguished painting, Samson Tells a Riddle at his Feast, by artist Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, interprets the knowledgeable scene of a biblical figure, Samson, and his wife at their wedding feast. Judges 14 of the Bible details the background story of the painting – how Samson met a Philistine woman and chose her as his wife. Before he can take his new bride’s hand in marriage, Samson is withheld by a dangerous lion. Samson, however, is determined to join his lady and slays the beast. Oddly, Samson finds a swarm of bees surrounding a honeycomb inside the lion’s carcass. From this discovery, Samson formulates a riddle, which he tells to all of the guests at the feast of his wedding. The riddle goes like this: “Out of the eater came…show more content…
His choice to withhold this information from her is correct in judgment, however, because she will in fact spread the answer to the riddle eventually in the future. Samson’s position in the painting is facing away from his wife and leaning suspensefully out of his seat. This may be a hint that Samson will soon leave his wife later in the story. Another evidentiary observation about Samson’s wife is that she clearly feels that she doesn’t belong, even at her own dinner party! Everything in her appearance is completely different from the others in the painting. Not only is she sitting in solitude, but she is the only character in the painting whose gaze is toward the viewer. It’s as if the viewers of the painting are the only ones who will pay her any sort of attention. Her posture is similar to the way one would take a portrait. In fact, Samson Tells a Riddle at his Feast could be viewed as a lonely portrait of a single woman, despite the busy crowd of people among her. How ironic that Rembrandt has focused this entire painting around making Samson’s wife the center of the painting, especially when she remains nameless and does not even appear in the painting’s title, Samson Tells a Riddle at his Feast. This face could also hint that Rembrandt himself is ignoring Samson’s wife, by forgetting her in the title. Samson, after all, is not primarily featured in this painting. Another connection and element of clarity is introduced once Rembrandt’s

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