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Rembrandt van Rijn

Student at a Table by Candlelight

c. 1642

Reproduction of etching

Reproduction Plate: 11 1/4 x 10 1/2 in. (28.4 x 26.5 cm); Mat: 27 x 26 1/4 in. (68.5 x 67.5 cm)

Level 2, Periodicals/Reading Room, near entrance

Reproduction of an original etching at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Dr. & Mrs. Kent Bassett.

In this etching, Dutch artist Rembrandt (1606-1669) depicts a diligent student working into the hours of the night, aided only by the flickering light of a small candle. Light is not only a practical necessity for this scholar, but a symbol for the intellectual light he so painstakingly strives to gain through his solitary, disciplined efforts. Indeed, Rembrandt acknowledges that even a little light can illuminate our study and our souls. Furthermore, the light reminds the viewer of the Savior, the Light of the World, whose “light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not” (D&C 6:21).

In this work, the student sits upright, faces the viewer, and massages his temple, indicating intense concentration on his topic of study, or perhaps signifying the effort required to stay awake. When Dr. Bassett, a BYU Alum who donated this work to the BYU Museum of Art, first saw this etching, the image resonated with his own experiences studying in the library as an exhausted student. Rembrandt’s etching seemed to say, “Yes it’s late. Press on. The knowledge is worth the effort.” Truly, there are marvels to be found for those who, like this learner, seek diligently.