One of the great Dutch painters and printmakers of the 17th century, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) is best known for his expressive use of light and shadow in his many portraits.
Raised in Leiden, he studied with Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam, then returned to Leiden around 1625 and set up shop as a teacher and portrait artist. Sometime between 1630 and 1632 Rembrandt relocated to Amsterdam, where he spent the rest of his career. Though he had his detractors (some of whom considered him coarse and "low born"), Rembrandt was successful and famous during his lifetime, though he fell on financial hard times in his later years. He was a master printer and produced hundreds of group portraits and historical paintings, including The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp (1632), The Military Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq (1642) and Aristotle with a Bust of Homer (1653). His portraits -- including a lifelong trail of intriguing and rather frank self-portraits -- reveal his interest in psychological study and continue to be admired as landmarks in Western art.
The Night Watch
The Military Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq is also known as "The Night Watch" because it was thought the painting depicted a nighttime scene. When the painting was cleaned in the 1940s it became obvious that it depicted a daytime scene... He married Saskia van Ulenburgh (also Uylenburgh) in 1634. They had a son, Titus, in 1641, and Saskia died in 1642; both Titus and Saskia appear in many of Rembrandt's paintings.
From the outside, Rembrandt's seemed to have it all. He had a great career doing what he loved to do as well as the love of a good woman. While he should have been enjoying a prosperous career he and his wife suffered one great personal loss after another. Within a span of five years each of his three children would die in infancy. In 1641 a son they named Titus would break that cycle. However, tragedy always seemed to prevail. Although their son lived, Saskia's death would come one short year later.
In 1649 after a brief affair with his son's nanny Geertghe Dircx, Rembrandt found someone to share his life with. Hendrickje Stoffels formally his housekeeper soon became his partner in love and the subject for many of his paintings.
Although he was successful in his career as an artist, teacher and art dealer he was living well beyond his means which finally drove him to declare bankruptcy in 1656. Much of his collection of art and antiquities including the sale of his house went to pay his huge debts.
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