The Good Samaritan
  • Rembrandt (1606 - 1669)
  • The Good Samaritan
  • Netherlands
  • Date: 1630
  • Object Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on oak panel
  • Image size: 24.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Inv: P203
  • Location: East Galleries I
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Further Reading
  • The subject represents the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke X, 30-5) which tells of how a robbed and wounded man was left to suffer by the wayside until a Samaritan, an enemy of his people, took pity on his plight and brought him to the safety of an inn.

    The painting is signed on the stone in the bottom left-hand corner with Rembrandt’s monogram ‘RHL’, which he employed during his early career in Leiden between1624–32, and is dated 1630. The date of execution accords well with the style of the picture, which displays the bright palette and smooth manner of Rembrandt’s Leiden period. An etching by the artist, completed three years later, corresponds so closely to the composition that it appears that it was traced directly from the painting (an impression in the Wallace Collection, see P777). In the etching, Rembrandt added a dog and several other details to the foreground of the composition which are absent in the painting. It seems unlikely, however, that the painting was intended as a design for the print (as was once believed), rather Rembrandt propably created the etching to record the composition of the painting.

    This painting was once assigned to Rembrandt’s workshop and specifically to Govert Flinck when he was working with Rembrandt (c. 1633–4), but it is now considered to be an important and highly original and experimental work by the artist himself, as indicated particularly by the complexity of the composition, the high quality of draughtsmanship of the horse and the confident, fluid handling of the paint on the figure of the groom. A Rembrandt drawing (Hamburg, Kunsthalle) of the entrance to a cottage relates directly to the composition and two other related drawings are known (one inscribed 1632 and attributed to Moeyaert, London art market 1986; another Christie’s London, 10 April 1993).

    The jewel-like quality of the present picture endeared it to a succession of eminent collectors, including Jean de Jullienne, the duc de Choiseul, the prince de Conti, C.-A. de Calonne and the 3rd Marquess of Hertford, who acquired the picture at an unknown date and lent it to the British Institution in 1818.