Dose of Art #70: Rembrandt van Rijn – The Storm on the Sea of Galilee (c. 1633)

Rembrandt’s only known seascape and its whereabouts are unknown. On March 18, 1990, two thieves dressed as police officers, stole it from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston along with twelve other paintings with a total value of around $500 million. Despite a reward of $10 million, the crime is still unsolved.

“The biblical scene pitches nature against human frailty – both physical and spiritual. The panic-stricken disciples struggle against a sudden storm, and fight to regain control of their fishing boat as a huge wave crashes over its bow, ripping the sail and drawing the craft perilously close to the rocks in the left foreground. One of the disciples succumbs to the sea’s violence by vomiting over the side. Amidst this chaos, only Christ, at the right, remains calm, like the eye of the storm. Awakened by the disciples’ desperate pleas for help, he rebukes them: “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” and then rises to calm the fury of wind and waves. Nature’s upheaval is both cause and metaphor for the terror that grips the disciples, magnifying the emotional turbulence and thus the image’s dramatic impact.”

Source: Michael Zell, “Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” in Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 145.