Artwork of the Week: January 2019 (Week 2)
Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn (1606-1669), The Star of the Kings: A Night Piece (I/I), c.1652, etching and drypoint, 3 11/16 x 5 11/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.
This nighttime scene depicts a traditional Netherlandish custom on the Christian holiday of Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day, celebrated on January 6. Children often paraded in small groups, carrying a star-shaped lantern representing the star followed by the Magi. They visited homes, singing songs for which they might receive a coin or treats.
A youth holds a bright star lantern at the head of an eager group of children, who fill the center of the image. An older man stands under an arched doorway to the right of the star, as if receiving the merry group. Other adults look on, the light illuminating their faces. A town square forms the backdrop on the left of the image. Blocks of light indicate lamp-lit windows, and another festive group bears a similar lantern in the distance.