Simeon’s Song of Praise

Painting showing a small group of spotlit figures in a large, dark interior space. In the group kneels an old man who holds the infant Jesus. Another kneeling man and woman are next to the old man. A tall figure dressed in a robe and headdress stands and faces the group. Other people are standing and seated in the distance watching the scene.

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669)
Simeon’s Song of Praise, 1631
Oil on panel (rounded at the upper corners)
24 x 18 7/8 in. (60.9 x 47.9 cm)
Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague
Acquired by Prince William IV, 1733
Inv. no. 145

In the seventeenth century, history painting — the depiction of allegories, classical history, mythology, and the Bible — was highly esteemed, especially by academics. Simeon’s Song of Praise demonstrates Rembrandt’s brilliance in this genre. As chronicled in the Gospel of Luke, the elderly Simeon was promised that he would not die before seeing the Messiah. Rembrandt depicts a divinely illuminated Simeon acknowledging the child in his arms. Mary and Joseph sink in astonishment while the prophetess Anna appears before the group to offer a blessing.

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