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.
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.
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’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.
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.