Rembrandt van Rijn 

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Rembrandt: Self-portrait
Rembrandt: Self-Portrait with Beret and Turned-up Collar, 1659

Rembrandt van Rijn (July 15, 1606—October 4, 1669), known simply as Rembrandt, is considered one of the greatest artists of all time and the most important of the Dutch Masters. His media were drawing, printmaking, and oil painting. He was especially known for his portraits and self-portraits, but he depicted a wide variety of subjects, including landscapes, scenes of daily life, biblical and mythological scenes, historical pieces, and animal studies. Rembrandt was also an art collector and dealer.

His self-portraits, of which there are at least 17, document his skill and aging.

Rembrandt: Self-portrait in a cap, with eyes wide open, 1630, etching
Rembrandt: Self-Portrait in a Cap, with Eyes Wide Open, 1630, etching
Rembrandt: Self-portrait Leaning on Sill, 1639
Rembrandt: Self-portrait Leaning on Sill, 1639

As a young man, he quickly built a reputation and following for his portraits. His etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime. He acquired wealth, but then experienced tragedies and reversal of fortune.

Rembrandt: The Stoning of St. Stephen
Rembrandt, The Stoning of St. Stephen, painted when he was 19.

In 1634, Rembrandt married Saskia van Uylenburgh. She served as a model in many of his paintings. They had four children, the first three of whom died very young. Saskia passed away shortly after giving birth to their fourth child, son Titus.

Rembrandt: Portrait of Saskia van Uylenburgh (1612–1642), circa 1633–1634
Rembrandt: Portrait of Saskia van Uylenburgh (1612-1642), circa 1633-1634.

Rembrandt’s Biblical themes are marked by profound understanding of the scriptures. The 20th century priest Henri Nouwen was so moved by Rembrandt’s painting The Return of the Prodigal Son that he wrote a book about it and the spiritual insights he gained from studying it.

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Rembrandt, The Return of the Prodigal Son, detail, 1669.

Rembrandt took the then-new process of reproducing images by etching and transformed it into an art form in its own right. Most of his paintings remained in the Netherlands during his lifetime, but his prints circulated throughout Europe and established his reputation on the continent.

Rembrandt: The Night Watch
Rembrandt: The Night Watch
Rembrandt: The Storm on the Sea of Galilee
Rembrandt: The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. This painting was stolen from a museum in 1990 and has never been recovered.
Rembrandt: The Mill
Rembrandt: The Mill
Rembrandt: An Old Man in Red
Rembrandt: An Old Man in Red
Rembrandt: Girl in a Picture Frame
Rembrandt: Girl in a Picture Frame
Rembrandt: Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem
Rembrandt: Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem
Rembrandt: An Elephant
Rembrandt: An Elephant, drawing in black chalk

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

3 responses »

  1. I really enjoyed looking at each of these. I read somewhere that the girl in The Night Watch is Saskia, and that he often put her into his paintings, although she had no real place there. I’d never seen the Storm on the Sea of Galilee before. What a shame it’s missing.

    Liked by 1 person

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