Belshazzar's Feast

National Gallery, London, UK

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Rembrandt, 1635

religious painting

Rembrandt based this painting off of the story of Belshazzar as well as the writing on the wall in Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. Although Amsterdam was part of the Holy Roman Empire at the time, it also had a large Jewish population, and so this is a story of which many of Rembrant’s contemporaries would have been familiar. The artist’s intention at the time was to create a portrait of a religious story to which the public, who were largely illiterate, could refer. Rembrandt produced many stories from the bible for the same purpose, including Return of the Prodigal Son and Christ with the Sick around Him.

image of Belshazzar's Feast