Rembrandt: Master of Light and
"Those keen and steady eyes,
that we know so well from Rembrandt's self-portraits, must have
been able to look straight into the human heart."
Ernst H. Gombrich
Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, is the greatest Dutch, infact the greatest
17th century European artist known.
Recognized as 'the painter
of light', the artist produced numerous self-portraits throughout
his life, used unique artistic techniques and was a master of light
Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van
1606 Born 15th of July in Leiden, the eighth of nine
1613-1620 All his brothers were raised as craftsmen,
whereas Rembrandt was sent to the school for Latin and
later enrolled in the Philosophical Faculty of Leiden
University to study Classics.
1622-1624 Founds own studio. Executes history paintings,
physiognomical studies, numerous self-portraits and
also engravings and etchings.
1628 Constantijn Huygens, the highly educated secretary
of the governor, comes to Leiden and develops great
interest in Rembrandt and his art.
1635 Rembrandt's father dies.
1631 Rembrandt moves to Amsterdam, where he lives by
the art dealer, Uylenburgh and becomes recognized as
a successful portrait painter.
1632 Thanks to Huygens, Prince Frederick acquires a
number of paintings and commisions the Passion cycle.
1634 Rembrandt marries Saskia van Uylenburgh, niece
of the art-dealer Ulyenburgh. He becomes a member of
the Guild of St. Luke, so that he may train pupils.
He had eight pupils working in his studio, many famous
such as Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck.
1635 Rembrandt's first son dies only a few months after
1636 Rembrandt starts an encyclopaedic collection of
exotic items, scientific and historical objects, and
animals and plants. In the following years, he paints
a series of Saskia's portraits and The Prodigal Son
in the Tavern.
1640 Thier first daughter named Cornelia, dies as well
after a short while. Rembrandts mother dies a month
1641 Their son Titus is born.
1642 After the completion of The Night Watch, Saskia
dies. This causes a great trauma in Rembrandts life.
Geertge Dircx and Hendrickje Stoffels move in with him
in order to support him. Rembrandt works on his most
famous etching The Guilder Print. His graphic works
become well-recognized and are often copied.
1649 Geertge takes Rembrandt to court accusing him with
an unfulfilled promise of marriage, which Hendrickje
testifies against. Geertge is sentenced to several years
1653 Although Rembrandt received several commisions,
he had financial diffuculties and was forced to borrow
1654 Rembrandt has a daughter named Cornelius from Hendrickje.
Hendrickje is accused of immoral realtions with Rembrandt
before the Amsterdam Council of the Reformed Church.
1656 Rembrandt is declared bankrupt.
1657-1958 Rembrandt's house and collections are auctioned,
but still he cannot gather enough money to pay his debts.
He moves into the Roozengracht where he leads an isolated
1660 Titus and Hendrickje employ Rembrandt in their
art shop. He continues to keep pupils occupied and executes
1668 Titus marries Magdalena van Loo, but dies a few
1669 Rembrandt lives with daughter in law and has his
first granddaughter. He dies on October 4, without completing
the painting Simeon with the Christ Child in the Temple.
Bockemühl, Michael : Rembrandt The Mystery of the Revealed
Form, Köln: Taschen, 2000, p.102
His father was a miller who
wanted him to have a learned profession, but Rembrandt left the
University of Leiden to study painting.  During the 1620's, Rembrandt
studied art with the painter Jacob van Swanenburgh. He set up a
studio in Leiden and collaborated with Jan Lievens. In the 1630's
he moved from his native city, Leiden, to
where he became highly recognized and received many commisions for
portraits and religous scenes. In 1632 he painted his first group
portrait; The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp(Mauritshuis, The
Hague).  This was one of Rembrandt's first major public commissions
in Amsterdam. It depicts the regents of the Guild of Surgeons gathered
for a dissection and lecture.
Such group portraits were
a genre unique to Holland and was a promising income for an artist
where neither church nor royalty acted as patrons of art. Rembrandt's
paintings were more than just simple commemorative portraits. There
was an interesting arrangement of the figures, in this case pyramidal,
which created a natural scene. 
lived in the 'Golden Era' of Holland, which was a peak period in
terms of culture, science, trade and politics. He was very fond
of the Italien Renaissance art and quite unusually, non-European
artists. Influences of Rubens, with the spiralling compositions
and chiaroscuro (the use of strong contrast between light and dark)
inspired by Caravaggio are evident in his paintings, which he skillfully
assimilated into his paintings. 
Rembrandt revolutionized the
conventional technique; instead of using fine, thin brushstrokes,
he prefered chunky, thick brushstrokes, which were only properly
comprehensible from a distance. This created an unfinished look.
So instead of an imitation of the form, he created a suggestion
of it. 
Konusczak, meticulously describes the essence of Rembrandt: "He
worked in complex layers, building up a picture from the back to
the front with delicate glazes that allowed light actually to permeate
his backgrounds and reflect off the white underpainting, and generously
applied bodycolors which mimicked the effect of solid bodies in
space. Never before had a painter taken such a purely sensuous interest
and delight in the physical qualities of his medium, nor granted
it a greater measure of independence from the image." 
Rembrandt lived a wealthy life. In 1634, he married Saskia van Uylenburgh,
whom he used as a model for many of his paintings. In 1636, Rembrandt
began to paint with a more calm feeling adding warmth in color.
But within the next couple of years, he went through a difficult
stage, during which three of his four newly born children and wife
Night Watch (1642) is attributed as one of Rembrandt's most inventive
works, unfortunately it was cut down on all sides in 1715, so that
it could fit into the Town Hall. It is neither a night scene nor
does it depict soldiers mounting a watch. The painting was commisisoned
as a group portrait of a militia company. But what is so extraordinary
about the painting, is the fashion he integrated the portraits.
Each individual is occupied with their own particular duty. He created
a dynamic and exciting atmosphere with light and shades, a great
variety of poses and facial expressions within a complex spatial
Although Rembrandt never went to Italy, unlike many other artists,
there was an influence of classical Italy in his paintings. For
example in his landscape paintings, for which he used his imagination
rather than recording a specific location and included ancient ruins
and hills instead of depicting the flat landscape of Holland. 
Rembrandt lived a comfortable life, unlike many other artists, he
bought several paintings of other artists. In the 1640's and 1650's,
he had fewer commissions and sometimes exceeded in his spendings
causing bankruptcy, but this did not effect his artistic production.
During the last period of his life, Rembrandt did not give as much
importance to the baroque drama and superficial details, but more
to the spiritual expression. He was no longer interested in allegorical
and mythological subjects.
produced approximately 600 paintings, 300 etchings, and 1,400 drawings.
 Within these works are more than 60 self-portraits. These self-portraits
were not only portrayals of himself in various stages of his life,
but were also a means of studying facial expressions and exploring
different artistic techniques.  It was also a record of a lifetimes
changing attitudes. His early studies of self-portraits cannot be
considered as objective representation, since he used them as examples
for his later Bibilical and historical paintings and a way of elaborating
on chiaroscuro. One-third of Rembrandt's production were Biblical
subjects, which was not usual for Protestant Holland in the 17th
century, for church patronage was nonexistent and religious art
was not regarded as important. He, in a way, continued the baroque
style, dramatizing and emphasizing light and shadow.
For Rembrandt, drawing and etching were just as important as painting.
In his early drawings, he used black or red chalk, later used pen
and ink on paper combined with brushwork. Rembrandt's etchings were
also highly recognized and he was considered as one of the masters
of the technique. He used strokes of lines creating extraordinary
effects, again emphasizing light and shadow. Jan Six (1647), Three
Trees (1643) and the 100 Guilder Print are among his most well known
uniqueness that lies in Rembrandt's art, is its unfinished quality.
It leaves it to the observer to reveal the painting and discover
the features within the layers, therefore leading the observer to
a never-ending experience...
Honour, Hugh and Felming, John : A World History of Art, London:
Laurence King Publishing, 1995, s. 556
 Konusczak, Waldemar: Techniques of the World's Great Painters,
Book Sales, 1993
 Honour, Hugh and Felming, John : A World History of Art, London:
Laurence King Publishing, 1995, s. 557
 Bonafoux, Pascal : Rembrandt Substance and Shadow, London:
Thames and Hudson, 1992, p.102
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