Rembrandt van Rijn - Self-Portrait - Google Art Project.jpg
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

(1606-07-15)15 July 1606[1]
Died4 October 1669(1669-10-04) (aged 63)
Amsterdam, Dutch Republic
EducationJacob van Swanenburg
Pieter Lastman
Known forPainting, printmaking, drawing
Notable work
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632)
Belshazzar's Feast (1635)
The Night Watch (1642)
Bathsheba at Her Bath (1654)
Syndics of the Drapers' Guild (1662)
The Hundred Guilder Print (etching, c. 1647–1649)
MovementDutch Golden Age

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (/ˈrɛmbrænt, ˈrɛmbrɑːnt/,[2] Dutch: [ˈrɛmbrɑnt ˈɦɑrmə(n)ˌsoːɱ vɑn ˈrɛin] (About this soundlisten); 15 July 1606[1] – 4 October 1669), usually simply known as Rembrandt, was a Dutch Golden Age painter, printmaker and draughtsman. An innovative and prolific master in three media,[3] he is generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art and the most important in Dutch art history.[4] Unlike most Dutch masters of the 17th century, Rembrandt's works depict a wide range of style and subject matter, from portraits and self-portraits to landscapes, genre scenes, allegorical and historical scenes, and biblical and mythological themes as well as animal studies. His contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age, when Dutch art (especially Dutch painting), although in many ways antithetical to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, was extremely prolific and innovative and gave rise to important new genres. Like many artists of the Dutch Golden Age, such as Jan Vermeer of Delft, Rembrandt was also an avid art collector and dealer.

Rembrandt never went abroad, but he was considerably influenced by the work of the Italian masters and Netherlandish artists who had studied in Italy, like Pieter Lastman, the Utrecht Caravaggists, Flemish Baroque, and Peter Paul Rubens. After he achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, Rembrandt's later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardships. Yet his etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his reputation as an artist remained high,[5] and for twenty years he taught many important Dutch painters.[6]

Rembrandt's portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits and illustrations of scenes from the Bible are regarded as his greatest creative triumphs. His self-portraits form a unique and intimate autobiography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity.[4] Rembrandt's foremost contribution in the history of printmaking was his transformation of the etching process from a relatively new reproductive technique into a true art form, along with Jacques Callot. His reputation as the greatest etcher in the history of the medium was established in his lifetime and never questioned since. Few of his paintings left the Dutch Republic while he lived, but his prints were circulated throughout Europe, and his wider reputation was initially based on them alone.

The Prodigal Son in the Tavern, a self-portrait with Saskia, c. 1635

In his works he exhibited knowledge of classical iconography, which he molded to fit the requirements of his own experience; thus, the depiction of a biblical scene was informed by Rembrandt's knowledge of the specific text, his assimilation of classical composition, and his observations of Amsterdam's Jewish population.[7] Because of his empathy for the human condition, he has been called "one of the great prophets of civilization".[8] The French sculptor Auguste Rodin said, "Compare me with Rembrandt! What sacrilege! With Rembrandt, the colossus of Art! We should prostrate ourselves before Rembrandt and never compare anyone with him!"[9]

  1. ^ a b Or possibly 1607 as on 10 June 1634 he himself claimed to be 26 years old. See Is the Rembrandt Year being celebrated one year too soon? One year too late? Archived 21 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine and (in Dutch) J. de Jong, Rembrandts geboortejaar een jaar te vroeg gevierd Archived 18 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine for sources concerning Rembrandt's birth year, especially supporting 1607. However, most sources continue to use 1606.
  2. ^ "Rembrandt" Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  3. ^ See: list of drawings, prints (etchings), and paintings by Rembrandt.
  4. ^ a b Gombrich, p. 420.
  5. ^ Gombrich, p. 427.
  6. ^ Clark 1969, pp. 203
  7. ^ Clark 1969, pp. 203–204
  8. ^ Clark 1969, pp. 205
  9. ^ Rodin, Auguste: Art: Conversations with Paul Gsell. Translated from the French by Jacques de Caso and Patricia B. Sanders. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1984) ISBN 0-520-03819-3, p. 85. Originally published as Auguste Rodin, L'Art: Entretiens réunis par Paul Gsell (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1911). Auguste Rodin: "Me comparer à Rembrandt, quel sacrilège! À Rembrandt, le colosse de l'Art! Y pensez-vous, mon ami! Rembrandt, prosternons-nous et ne mettons jamais personne à côté de lui!” (original in French)

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