In the love of one woman

In the movie Rembrandt, the painter (Charles Laughton) sits in a tavern with a group of men. How, his companions ask, can he stand to paint his wife Saskia all the time? Seven years of marriage, and still he paints Saskia! The discussion continues:

REMBRANDT: There was a man in the land of Uz and the Lord gave him all that the human heart could desire, but beyond all, this man was in love with his wife.

A MAN: He must have had a secret.


ANOTHER MAN: I’d like to know it!

REMBRANDT: He had a vision once. A creature half-child, half-woman, half-angel, half-lover brushed against him. And of a sudden he knew that when one woman gives herself to you, you possess all women. Women of every age and race and kind, and more than that, the moon, the stars, all miracles and legends are yours. Brown-skinned girls who inflame your senses with their play, cool yellow-haired women who entice and escape you, gentle ones who serve you, slender ones who torment you, the mothers who bore and suckled you; all women whom God created out of the teeming fullness of the earth, are yours in the love of one woman.


REMBRANDT: Throw a purple garment lightly over her shoulders, and she becomes queen of Sheba. Lay your tousled head blindly upon her breast, and she is a Delilah, waiting to implore you. Take her garment from her, strip the last veil from her body, and she’s a chaste Susannah, covering her nakedness with flattering hands. Gaze upon her as you’d gaze upon a thousand strange women, but never call her yours, for her secrets are inexhaustible. You’ll never know them all! Call her by one name only. I call her Saskia.

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