Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 – 1669), usually simply known as Rembrandt, was a world-renowned Dutch painter during the Dutch Golden Age. He is known for his stunningly realistic paintings, as well as his etchings and drawings. Today, his work is highly prized by collectors and sell for record prices at auction.
Rembrandt was born in Leiden, Netherlands in 1606. His father, Harmen Gerritszoon van Rijn, was a miller, and his mother, Neeltgen Willemsdochter zum Hove, was the daughter of a baker. Rembrandt had two older brothers, one of whom died in infancy. As a child, Rembrandt likely attended the Latin school in Leiden. At the age of 14, he was enrolled at the University of Leiden to study philosophy, but he dropped out after only a few months.
In 1620, Rembrandt’s father passed away, leaving the young artist to support himself. He found work as an apprentice for a local history painter named Jacob Willemszoon de Wet. After a few years, Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam to study under the famed artist Pieter Lastman. It was during this time that Rembrandt created his first known painting, “The Stoning of Saint Stephen.”
After a brief return to Leiden, Rembrandt once again went to Amsterdam in 1624. He joined the studio of Lastman’s pupil, Pieter Codde. It was around this time that Rembrandt began to develop his own unique style, characterized by bold contrasts and dramatic lighting effects.
In 1631, Rembrandt opened his own studio in Amsterdam. He quickly gained a reputation as a masterful portraitist, and his work began to fetch high prices. He married Saskia van Uylenburgh in 1634, and the couple had four children together, only one of whom survived to adulthood.
Tragedy struck in 1642 when Rembrandt’s wife died from tertiary syphilis. The following year, their infant son passed away. These events took a toll on the artist, both emotionally and financially. His work became increasingly dark and melancholic in tone.
Despite his personal struggles, Rembrandt continued to produce some of his most iconic works during the 1650s and 1660s. In 1669, he passed away at the age of 63. Today, Rembrandt is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters in history. His work continues to inspire artists around the world.