The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

Rembrandt van Rijn. The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, 1637. Oil on panel, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.

In this painting, a landowner is paying his workers at the end of the day. The weak evening light illuminates the table where his wife sits with the account book open. The workers to the right talk among themselves, as two workers question the landowner. This long parable is found only in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt 20:1-16.) The landowner has hired workers throughout the day and paid them all the same wage, whether they worked all day or only an hour. The workers who worked all day are angry. The focus of the painting is the two workers questioning their pay. The small scale of the painting (perhaps 12 x 16 inches) makes you feel as if you are peering into the darkened room. Rembrandt was a master of chiaroscuro, using darkness to draw the viewer into the narrative.


Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

A gospel is an account that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

A written, spoken, or recorded story.

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