Bathsheba at Her Bath is one of Rembrandt’s most celebrated oil paintings, completed in 1654. The painting portrays a moment from the Old Testament where King David sees Bathsheba bathing and impregnates her. It is displayed at the Louvre in Paris and is considered amongst his finest work.
The artwork is held in high esteem for its ability to combine sensuality with empathy. Rembrandt shows Bathsheba as being David’s victim with no choice but to surrender to him, effectively laying bare the horror of sexual violence. The painting not only depicts women as beautiful but also highlights the consequences and impacts that come with their beauty and sexuality.
In this work, Rembrandt experimented with frontal lighting techniques and brushwork when creating shallow space illuminated from the left. This recipe allowed significant emphasis on Bathsheba’s physical attributes while highlighting her plight as an objectified woman who was preyed upon by a power-hungry aphrodisiac king.
Although praised over time for its artistic excellence, Bathsheba at Her Bath has likewise come under criticism stemming from misogynistic attitudes attributable to the time that audience perceived women who were seen nude or physically suggestive as loose or immoral beings exposed to rape or scornfulness.