The Eternal Effect of a Rembrandt – A Reflection by Teri Severson

Janel LewandowskiYear of the Artist

           Does art have a message for the onlooker? Does it have a goal or a possible meaning behind it for the observer? Artist Francis Bacon stated “The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.”  In Henri Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son, we learn that Rembrandt’s famous painting by the same name had a profound impact on the author.  It revealed life-changing truths to him as he contemplated and studied it for years, beginning with his first gaze upon it. Those truths brought with it the fruits of peace, inner healing, and total freedom and certainty in the revelation of Christ’s incomprehensible mercy and love for him.  It does make one wonder how a painting done in the seventeenth century, depicting a parable from the first century, could have such an effect on a person in the twentieth century! “A painting is never finished,” says Paul Gardener. “it simply stops in interesting places.”       In the book, Nouwen shows how he first, instinctively, saw himself in the prodigal son. “Over and over again I have left home,” he writes. “I have fled the hands of blessing and ran off in search … Read More