Wait, Did Rembrandt Hang Out With Mennonites?

Andrew and I first went to Europe in 2007… twice. First in the summer, and then over Christmas because Andrew found unbelievably cheap return flights to Berlin. The Mennonite thing wasn’t really on our radar.

I think we were in the Gemäldegalerie when we saw it: The Mennonite Preacher Anslo and his Wife, painted by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn in 1641.

“Wait, Rembrandt hung out with Mennonites?”

“Hmmmm well even his name sounds kinda Mennonite… I mean, I guess he was a Brandt, eh? Ha…”

“Yeah… I guess Mennonites were still around Holland when Rembrandt was painting.”

“Well, whoa.”

So, I looked it up. Sure enough, Rembrandt dabbled in Menno-ism. I guess these particular Mennonites were pretty rich so they commissioned Rembrandt to paint their portraits, and maybe that’s how they became acquainted or something. But ultimately he did not officially join the Mennonites. However, Rembrandt does have his own GAMEO entry! (Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online, yo.) It’s a pretty interesting article if you care to click.

Before I wrap this up, I need to address my annoyance with this particular painting. For Pete’s sake, it’s a mansplaining portrait. “Listen wife, you sit here while I talk at you and point to the Bible.” “Oh, okay.” Yep. When I first saw this painting, I rolled my eyes. So there you go: my personal take on this situation.