The Blinding of Samson, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn
The Blinding of Samson
Back to top

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

The Blinding of Samson, 1636

219.3 x 305 cm
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Inventory Number
Acquired in 1905 with funds provided by Städelsche Stiftung, Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V., the city of Frankfurt am Main and numerous friends of the museum.
On display, 2nd upper level, Old Masters, room 6


About the Work

What violence! What drama! The superhuman strength with which God endowed the Old Testament judge Samson resides in his uncut hair. His mistress, Delilah, a Philistine, has coaxed this secret from him. She shaves his head and calls her countrymen, who lose no time in pouncing on the hero thus robbed of his might. They tie him up and gouge out his eyes. Illuminated with a harsh beam of the kind cast by a spotlight, the ghastly scene has a stage-like quality. Delilah looks back at her victim with an expression of triumph, fascination and disgust.

About the Acquisition

This painting represents one of the most spectacular acquisitions in the long history of the Städel Museum. The driving force behind the efforts to purchase it was the then director of the Städel, Ludwig Justi. He negotiated a price of 336,000 marks with the previous owners, the family of the Counts of Schönborn in Vienna, but the Städel could not raise this amount on its own. Within days, eighty-five private donors had contributed 167,700 marks. The city and the Museums-Verein also provided large sums, enabling the purchase to be concluded in May 1905.

Audio & Video

  • Basic information
  • Focus on material
  • Focus on religion
  • Highlights of the Städel Collection
  • Exhibition “Rembrandt in Amsterdam: Creativity and Competition” (2021)
  • Exhibition “Rubens. The Power of Transformation” (2018)
  • Kunst|Stück – Dialog der Meisterwerke: Alte Meister
    In unserem Kunst|Stück zur Ausstellung "Dialog der Meisterwerke. Hoher Besuch zum Jubiläum" trifft Rembrandts „Die Blendung Simsons" (1636) aus dem Städel Museum auf Artemisia Gentileschis „Judith enthauptet Holofernes" (1612/13) aus dem Museo e Gallerie Nazionali di Capodimonte Neapel. Entdecken Sie in unter zwei Minuten spannende Details zu den Kunstwerken aus ungewöhnlichen Blickwinkeln. Dialog der Meisterwerke. Hoher Besuch zum Jubiläum (7. Oktober 2015 bis 24. Januar 2016): Die Ausstellung „Dialog der Meisterwerke. Hoher Besuch zum Jubiläum“ wurde gefördert durch die DZ Bank als Corporate Sponsor und die Förderer Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain gGmbH, Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne sowie der Kulturstiftung der Länder. -------------------------- Für Untertitel klicken Sie bitte auf das Untertitel-Symbol am rechten unteren Rand des Videos. / For subtitles please click the captions icon at the bottom of the video.
  • Zur Bildgenese der Blendung Simsons
    „Zur Bildgenese der Blendung Simsons“ Ein Vortrag von Mareike Gerken und Prof. Dr. Jochen Sander, Städel Museum Frankfurt. Anlässlich der Ausstellung „Nennt mich Rembrandt! Durchbruch in Amsterdam“ veranstaltete das Städel Museum eine internationale Tagung, die sich aktuellen kunsttechnologischen Forschungen zu Rembrandts Gemälden und Arbeiten auf Papier widmete. Die Tagung brachte Perspektiven aus den Fachdisziplinen der Kunstgeschichte und Restaurierung zusammen und ging der Frage nach, welche kunsttechnologischen und methodischen Herangehensweisen derzeit im Vordergrund der Rembrandt-Forschung stehen und welche Ergebnisse sie für die zukünftige Forschung versprechen. Mehr Informationen zur Ausstellung:

Work Data

Basic Information

The Blinding of Samson
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Signiert und datiert unten in der Mitte: Rembrandt F 1636

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
Public Domain
Acquired in 1905 with funds provided by Städelsche Stiftung, Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V., the city of Frankfurt am Main and numerous friends of the museum.

Work Content

Motifs and References

Main Motif
Persons Shown
Illustrated Passage
  • Bibel, Altes Testament, Richter 16,19-21


  • 71F378 the blinding of Samson
  • 31E23625 violent death by blinding
  • 71F37 story of Samson and Delilah (Judges 16:4-21)


Research and Discussion


Object History
Graf Friedrich Karl von Schönborn-Buchheim [Fürstbischof von Bamberg und Würzburg] (1674-1746), Wien/Würzburg, vor 1731
Graf Eugen Franz Erwein von Schönborn-Buchheim (1727-1801), Wien
Graf Friedrich Karl Erwein von Schönborn-Buchheim (1869-1932), Wien
verkauft durch Dominik Artaria, Wien an das Städelsche Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, 15. Mai 1905.


Since 2001, the Städel Museum has systematically been researching the provenance of all objects that were acquired during the National Socialist period, or that changed owners or could have changed owners during those years. The basis for this research is the “Washington Declaration”, also known as the “Washington Conference Principles”, formulated at the 1998 “Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets” and the subsequent “Joint Declaration”.

The provenance information is based on the sources researched at the time they were published digitally. However, this information can change at any time when new sources are discovered. Provenance research is therefore a continuous process and one that is updated at regular intervals.

Ideally, the provenance information documents an object’s origins from the time it was created until the date when it found its way into the collection. It contains the following details, provided they are known:

  • the type of acquisition and/or the way the object changed hands
  • the owner's name and place of residence
  • the date on which it changed hands

The successive ownership records are separated from each other by a semicolon.

Gaps in the record of a provenance are indicated by the placeholder “…”. Unsupported information is listed in square brackets.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact the museum at .

Similar works

  • All
  • Motif
  • Picture Elements
  • Association
  • Atmosphere
  • Emotion
Show connecting keywords Hide connecting keywords

Tap on any work to display common keywords.

Hover over a work to display connecting keywords.

More to discover



Do you have any suggestions, questions or information about this work?

Last update