"Choose only one master: Nature."


Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (b. July 15, 1606, Leiden, Neth./ d. Oct. 4, 1669, Amsterdam), Dutch painter, draftsman, and etcher of the 17th century. Rembrandt is the greatest artist of the Dutch school and a giant in the history of art. His paintings are characterized by luxuriant brushwork, rich color, and a mastery of chiaroscuro. His numerous portraits and self-portraits exhibit a profound penetration of character, and his drawings constitute a vivid record of contemporary Amsterdam life.

His father was a miller who wanted the boy to follow a learned profession, but Rembrandt left the University of Leiden to study painting. His early work was devoted to showing the lines, light and shade, and color of the people he saw about him. He was influenced by the work of Caravaggio and was fascinated by the work of many other Italian artists. When Rembrandt became established as a painter, he began to teach and continued teaching art throughout his life.

In 1631, when Rembrandt's work had become well known and his studio in Leiden was flourishing, he moved to Amsterdam. He became the leading portrait painter in Holland and received many commissions for portraits as well as for paintings of religious subjects. He lived the life of a wealthy, respected citizen and met the beautiful Saskia van Uylenburgh, whom he married in 1634. She was the model for many of his paintings and drawings. Rembrandt's works from this period are characterized by strong lighting effects. In addition to portraits, Rembrandt attained fame for his landscapes, while as an etcher he ranks among the foremost of all time. When he had no other model, he painted or sketched his own image. It is estimated that he painted between 50 and 60 self-portraits.

In 1636 Rembrandt began to depict quieter, more contemplative scenes with a new warmth in color. In the 1630s and 1640s he made many landscape drawings and etchings. His landscape paintings are imaginative, rich portrayals of the land around him.

Rembrandt had become accustomed to living comfortably. From the time he could afford to, he bought many paintings by other artists. By the mid-1650s he was living so far beyond his means that his house and his goods had to be auctioned to pay some of his debts. He had fewer commissions in the 1640s and 1650s, but his financial circumstances were not unbearable. The number of works attributed to Rembrandt varies. He produced approximately 600 paintings, 300 etchings, and 1,400 drawings.


"Self-Portrait" (1661) Oil on canvas, 114 x 94 cm -  44.8 x 37 in. English Heritage, Kenwood House, London, UK.


"A Scholar" (1631) Oil on canvas, 104.5 x 92 cm - 41 x 36 in. Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.


"The Raising of Lazarus" (circa 1630) Oil on panel, 96.2 x 81.5 cm - 37.8 x 32 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA, USA.


"St. Paul in Prison" (1627) Oil on panel. Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany.


"Philosopher in Meditation" (1632) Oil on wood, 28 x 34 cm - 11 x 13 1/2 in. Musee du Louvre, Paris, France.


"The Feast of Belshazzar" (circa 1635) Oil on canvas, 167 x 209  cm - 65.75 x 82.3 in. National Gallery, London, UK.


"Portrait of Nicolaas van Bambeeck" (1641) Oil on canvas, 84 x 105.5 cm - 33.07" x 3' 5.54" in. Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium.


"The Anatomy Lecture of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp" (1632) Oil on canvas, 216.5 x 169.5 cm - 7' 1.24" x 5' 6.73" in. Mauritshuis, The Hague, The Netherlands.


"Night Watch (The Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq)" (1642) Oil on canvas, 437 x 363 cm - 14' 4.05" x 11' 10.91" in. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


"Tobit and Anna with a Kid" (circa 1626) Oil on panel, 30 x 39.5 cm - 11.81 x 15.55 in. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


"The Mill" (circa 1650) Oil on canvas, 87.5 x 105.5 cm - 34 1/2 x 41 1/2 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC., USA.


"Self Portrait with a Cap, openmouthed" (1630) Etching and burin, 4.6 x 5.1 cm - 1.81 x 2.01 in. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Text source: various.

Related Artists:

Related Terms: Baroque, Chiaroscuro, Etching.


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