Rembrandt van Rijn
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), possible the most famous Dutch artist who ever lived, was born in as the son of a rich miller. At the age of eighteen, he moved to Amsterdam to work for Pieter Lastman, a popular painter. Six months later, he returned to Leiden to open his own workshop.
In Leiden, he accepted his first pupils, among them Gerrit Dou, and his popularity grew rapidly. In 1631, he decided to return to the flowering city of Amsterdam, where he received his first large commissions, such as from Nicolaes Tulp, for whom he produced a famous work. Three years later, he married Saskia van Uylenburch.
Although he was a very talented and appreciated artist, Rembrandt spent the last years of his life in miserable circumstances. His dear Saskia passed away and his many debts compelled him to sell his house and his possessions. A few years later, he lost his mistress Henkdrickje Stoffels and his son Titus as well, and he died penniless in 1669.
Rembrandt is lauded especially for the way he used shadows and light (a technique known as chiaroscuro) to foreground events and figures in his paintings, which gave his paintings a dramatic and dynamic effect. He also had no qualms about taking a creative approach.
His most famous work, The Night Watch, is a lively composition that clearly distinguishes itself from other significant group portraits. Rembrandt probably produced about 300 paintings, 300 etchings and 2000 sketches. Gerard Dou, Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck are among the more famous of his pupils.
Where to find Rembrandt van Rijn
Dozens of Rembrandt’s works can be admired in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, including his famous work The Night Watch. This painting, The Night Watch, can also be admired in a Delft Blue version at Royal Delft. The Mauritshuis in The Hague also has ten of his paintings on display, including “Anatomic lesson by Dr Nicolaes Tulp”. If you are interested in Rembrandt’s life, consider visiting Museum het Rembrandthuis (the Rembrandt House Museum), where many of his etchings can be examined.