Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem
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Unfortunately, in Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, getting to say “I told you so” also means watching your home city get destroyed and burned to the ground.

Yikes! Where is his sense of urgency? If the city was being torn apart I’d be concerned with getting the heck out of there! Instead, it appears that Jeremiah is iconically relishing in his Book of Lamentations, the work that predicted the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army. Rembrandt paints King Zedekiah in the background of the painting- the ruler who imprisoned and tortured Jeremiah over the course of 40 years. Zedekiah holds his fists over his eyes because he has been blinded by the Babylonians while Jeremiah laments by himself, paying little mind to the King’s suffering. Is Jeremiah still salty over not being taken seriously? I think yes.

This painting is called a tronie, a work that usually consists of an older, ornately dressed individual from the past. In 1630, painting fancy old people was a way to honor and preserve their stories by conveying attributes like soldierly bravery and piety. Rembrandt completed this work in 1630 during his Leiden period, when he returned back to his city of birth and settled as an independent master along with fellow artist Jans Lievens. The two men shared a studio together and would frequently try to one-up each other by copying the other’s work. It’s clear that the tronies of Rembrandt are the apples of the art crony’s eye, because the works of the Leiden period launched Rembrandt into commercial success and differentiated him as the true winner. To artists like Goya and Van Gogh, Rembrandt is a master that they consider holier than the biblical figures that Rembrandt paints. Art historian Kenneth Clark once called Rembrandt “one of the great prophets of human civilization.” It appears that Jeremiah and Rembrandt have more in common than meets the eye!

What conclusions can we draw from this painting? Jeremiah had a pretty awful life but at least he goes down in history as being right! Take that, Zedekiah! Also, a little dose of healthy competition results in Rembrandt mastering his craft and Lievens vanishing into relative obscurity. Like Zedekiah the last king of Judah, Lievens just didn’t get it right.




  1. Johnson, Ken. "A Forgotten Baroque Painter, Shown Free of Rembrandt’s Shadow." The New York Times. October 30, 2008. Accessed November 21, 2017.
  2. "Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem by REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn." Web Gallery of Art . Accessed November 21, 2017.
  3. "Rembrandt." Wikipedia. November 21, 2017. Accessed November 21, 2017.
  4. "The Book of Lamentations." Scripture. Accessed November 21, 2017.
  5. Wetering, Ernst Van de. "The Leiden period (1625–31)." Encyclopædia Britannica. November 15, 2017. Accessed November 21, 2017.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem is a 1630 painting by Rembrandt. It is one of the most renowned works of his Leiden period.


Several art critics have praised Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem as one of Rembrandt's early masterpieces.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem.