Rembrandt (1606-1669), was The Netherlands' greatest artist. Rembrandt's output was tremendous. Scholars credit him with about 600 paintings, 300 etchings, and 1,400 drawings. Many other wrote almost nothing about his art. The range of Rembrandt's subjects is extraordinary. His works include landscapes, nudes, portraits, scenes of everyday life, animals and birds, historical and mythological subjects, and works inspired by stories from the Old and New Testaments. Throughout his career, Rembrandt also made about 100 known portraits of himself. They form a unique autobiography. Rembrandt's reputation rests on his power as a storyteller, his warm sympathy, and his ability to show the innermost feelings of the people he portrayed. His use of light and shadow creates an atmosphere that enables us to share his sensitive response to nature and profound understanding of man's inner life. Few artists match his genius for showing the human aspect of Biblical characters. He was equally capable of suggesting the divine spark which rests in every man. 

 

 

 Early Years

 Rembrandt was born in Leiden on July 15, 1606. His full name was Rembrandt  Harmenszoon van Rijn. He first studied with Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam. About 1625, Rembrandt returned to Leiden to paint on his own. 

 

 

Leiden years: 1625-1631 

 Most of Rembrandt's early works are small, precisely finished pictures of Biblical and historical subjects. The influence of last man can be seen in the lively gestures and expressions of his figures and in his vivid colors and glossy paint. However, Rembrandt rapidly surpassed his teacher's ability to tella story. He also used light and shadow better than anyone else to heighten the drama of his works. Light and shadow became Rembrandt's principal means of pictorial expression. Rembrandt quickly achieved local success. He began to teach in 1628, nad his strong personality continued to attract students and followers throughout his entire career. 

 

 

  Early Amsterdam Years: 1632-1640

 About 1632, Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam. He remained there for the rest of his life, except for a few short trips within The Netherlands. In 1634, he married Saskia van Uylenburg. They had four children, but only one, Titus (1641-1668), survived infancy. In 1632, Rembrandt painted the Anatomy Lesson of professor Tulp. This group portrait immediately estabilished  his reputation as the most fashionable portrait painter in Amsterdam. 

"Meditation"

"Tobias"

"Abraham"

"Lazzaro's Resurrection"

 

 Rembrandt's paintings Blinding of Samson, Donae and Rape of Ganymede show the exciting subjects he favored during these years. They, like most of his other works during this period, emphasize dramatic movement, emphatic gestures, sharp contrasts of light and shadow, and striking color accents. 

 

 

 The Last Years: 1640-1669 

 Rembrandt's most famous picture, The Night Watch, was painted in 1642. According to a legend , the men who commissioned the portrait were not satisfied with it and refused the painting because Rembrandt would not change it in any way. Because he would not change to please public taste, the tale continues, he soon lost patrons and friends and spent his last years penniless and in total obscurity. However, evidence proves that Rembrandt received a high price for The Night Watch, and that he continued to receive important public and private commissions during the last years of his life. These commissions included Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer, Portrait of Jan Six, Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis, and The Syndics. However, tragedy did strike Rembrandt in 1642 when his beloved wife, Saskia, died. Also, the mature Rembrandt did not enjoy the wide popularity he had as a young painter. Although he still ranked as one of his country's leading artists, he ran short of money. The house he purchased in 1639 was too expensive. 

 

 

Collected works 

 

 Rembrandt also collected works of art on a scale he could not afford. Most important, he began to paint more and more for himself. His late majestic Biblical paintings were not commissioned works. They were done to satisfy his own inner needs. During this period, Rembrandt's art gained steadily in spiritual depth and pictorial richness. His wonderful light now seemed to glow from within his works. The shadows became more intense and vibrant. In place of earlier sensational effects, his work shows solemn, restraint, calmness, and tenderness. When man is represented, the thoughtful rather than active side of his nature is stressed. Man with a Magnifying Glass, an example from this period. Rembrandt's landscape etchings and drawings during these years have an unmatched sense of space and fresh air. Rembrandt was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1656. His house and possessions were sold at auction in 1657 and 1658. But when he died on Oct. 4, 1669, he left his surviving relatives a fairly large inheritance. 

 

 

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