Rembrandt’s Eyes

Some of my friends are resting on shelves in the guest room. While I can’t have my conversations with most of you at night, for you are rather hefty tomes, I hold most of you particularly dear. You, Rembrandt, are there in more books than one. In his Rembrandt’s Eyes, Simon Schama really understands you and your life in depth. You come alive as you look out at me from the pages of his book,  yet I know you are not looking at me, but deep within yourself. It is your gaze which haunts me and whenever I am in NY it is you I go to see at the Met. I wonder when I first met you.

Another book of yours I have is dated 1944 and most of the illustrations are in black and white, except for one or two, including the Man with a Golden Helmet. Would I have bought such an important book when I was only 15?  The self-portraits  in Schama’s book document the passing of years, and the events of your life. Then there is the portrait of  your son Titus. It brought tears to the eyes of my friend when she saw the original.

Not only your eyes, but your hands too speak so clearly. The couple in The Jewish Bride are not looking at us, and we are entranced by the tenderness of touch as his hand seems to protectively rest on her breast. I shall never forget the moment when I was visiting the Rijksmuseum with a young student who had just arrived from the United States. He was ecstatic when he finally saw this painting and just stood there spellbound. More than any other paintings, your self-portraits and the Jewish Bride have become part of me.

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