Even during his lifetime, Rembrandt gained fame, including thanks to his engravings that were widely spread throughout Europe. Rembrandt left a mark in many genres of painting: he painted landscapes, biblical heroes, mythological scenes, portraits and self-portraits. All his work is imbued with humanism and a deep understanding of human nature.
Biography of Rembrandt
Probably, the boy showed outstanding abilities from a young age, because his parents first sent him to a prestigious school, and then to Leiden University, one of the best in Europe. When the young man decided to devote himself to painting, his father and mother took him from the university and arranged him as a student to the artist. It is known about the Rembrandt brothers that one of them became a baker, and another a shoemaker.
From whom Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn began to receive art education is unknown. The second teacher was the unremarkable Leiden Mannerist artist Jacob van Swanenburg, and the third was the outstanding painter from Amsterdam, Peter Lastman. Through the latter, Rembrandt adopts the techniques of Caravaggio: bold naturalism and a sharp contrast of light and shadow, giving depth to space.
Already at the age of 18, the artist returns to Leiden and opens a workshop. At first, when there were no customers yet, he painted skillfully executed portraits of his relatives and characters of the Bible, but success came quickly.
In 1631, Rembrandt moved permanently to Amsterdam, where he quickly established himself as a professional portraitist. A group portrait of the Amsterdam doctors entitled “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp” brought him many congratulations and expensive commissions. From this moment on, the artist who knows his own worth begins to sign works not with an abbreviation of the name and surname, but with only one name.
In 1634, Rembrandt married Saskia van Uylenburg, a beautiful girl with a large dowry, the daughter of a burgomaster. The family enters high society and moves into a luxurious house. The artist portrays Saskia in numerous portraits, using her image for allegorical scenes. After eight years of a happy marriage, the beautiful wife died of tuberculosis. Of the four children, only the youngest son, Titus, also captured in many of Rembrandt’s paintings, survived.
Other misfortunes follow.
Completed in the same year, the famous portrait “Night Watch” caused a scandal. Many of the participants in this group portrait were depicted in an unflattering manner and did not want to pay. The unwillingness of the artist to deviate from the truth to please the customers led to the loss of many influential clients. The financial situation worsened, and the painter was not used to saving: for many years he collected a collection of works of art that inspired him.
Hard times are brightened up by the company of a young servant Hendrikje Stoffels, who became the common-law wife of Rembrandt and gave birth to his daughter Cornelia. The artist could not officially marry her, as he would have lost the right to Saskia’s inheritance. The girl is blamed for an obscene relationship and excommunicated, but she remains with her beloved for the rest of her life. The result of these relationships were portraits full of tenderness.
In 1656, Rembrandt suffered a financial collapse. Property acquired over a lifetime goes under the hammer. Bidding was organized in such a way that even paintings by Raphael, Jan van Eyck and Rubens from the collection were sold very cheaply. The proceeds were not enough to cover the debts. From his former home, the painter and his family moved to the outskirts of the city.
Rembrandt was buried like a pauper on October 4, 1669.
By that time, he had lost both Hendrickje and his only son with his daughter-in-law and granddaughter. In the last year, only his 15-year-old daughter Cornelia remained with him. The aged master depicted the faces of deceased loved ones on a fictional “Family Portrait”, which remained unfinished. At the age of 18, Cornelia married an artist, the same poor orphan. She named her son and daughter Rembrandt and Hendrickje.