Bathsheba at Her Bath
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Bathsheba at Her Bath is an oil painting of Bathsheba by Rembrandt from 1654. The model was Rembrandt's partner Hendrickje Stoffels. She is known to have died young and the shadow on her left breast has led some to speculate that her death was from breast cancer.
The story of David's seduction of Bathsheba tells that David, while walking on the roof of his house, saw Bathsheba, who was then the wife of Uriah, taking a bath. He immediately desired her and later made her pregnant.
- And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. --King James bible
Subsequent references to Bathsheba at Her Bath have been noted in the works of 19th- and 20th-century artists. It is thought to have inspired The Surprised Nymph (1859–61), an early figure by Édouard Manet that playfully references old master sources. Edgar Degas' pastel Woman Having Her Hair Combed (c. 1885) has been compared to Bathsheba for similarities in the model's attitude; Degas' father was an acquaintance of Louis La Caze, who owned Bathsheba prior to bequeathing it to the Louvre in 1869.
Frédéric Bazille recalled Bathsheba in his La Toilette, painted for the 1870 Paris Salon. Similar in size and format, Bazille's work shares some of the mood of the Rembrandt: according to critic Dianne Pitman, "not the unfolding of a specific narrative but the interplay of sensual effect and solemnity, blending realistic intimacy and dignified remoteness". A 1963 print by Picasso, Seated Nude and Another Figure, refers to the overtly voyeuristic properties of Bathsheba.