Biography 2017-10-16T12:34:59+00:00

Biography

Rembrandt's Portrait

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn Portrait

Rembrandt is a renowned Dutch artist whose art works inspired both marvel and applaud. He was born in Leiden in 1606 on the 15th of July in a family of nine and was named Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn. Rembrandt’s father was Harmen Gerritszoon van Rijn, a miller of that age whose dedication to giving proper care to his children guaranteed Rembrandt’s success. His mother was Neeltgen Willemsdochter, a dedicated Roman Catholic. In as far as religion is concerned, Rembrandt is not known to have formally been dedicated to any church although his mother and father were Roman Catholic and Dutch Reformed respectively. Rembrandt still managed to remain unscarred by the religious divisions that characterised his parent’s home and had a deep connection to religious paintings as reflected by most of his work.

Generally, Rembrandt’s family was quite humble even though he managed to excel in his education. As early as 14, Rembrandt had managed to secure himself a place at the University of Leiden after successfully completing his studies at the Latin school. After a few months of studying at Leiden University, he lost interest in the program he was pursuing and chose to switch to art. This was mainly due to the backing of a local art master, Jacob Van Swanenburch who had been renowned for being one of the finest artists in Leiden. Jacob had taken in Rembrandt as an apprentice and the two worked together for a period of three years during which Rembrandt’s painting skills were propelled to greater heights.

Following the end of a three-year long apprenticeship with Jacob, Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam to grasp the most fundamental concepts of art with another iconic figure of art work, Pieter Lastman, who is held in high esteem for his historical paintings. It took him only six months to master most of the important art work concepts with Pieter Lastman. Rembrandt served as an apprentice under Pieter, a time when he is believed to have become a fully-fledged painter and visual artist. He later returned to Leiden to showcase his art skills.

During his early days in Leiden, Rembrandt managed to attract a large following of students out which emerged the likes of Gerrit Dou, a famous figure of both that time and today’s painting world. This was after he started his own workshop following a short stay with another high profile artist of Leiden, Jacob Pynas.

Rembrandt is unique mainly because he did not acquire training from Italian art schools unlike most of his contemporaries who had travelled to Italy for additional studies in visual art.

Following the success of his art studio, Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam where he established himself as a professional portraitist. Despite having done the work for the very first time, he still managed to assert himself as a commanding figure of the portraitist fraternity. During his early days in Amsterdam, he stayed with the then famous art dealer Hendrick van Uylenburgh who would later become his brother in law following his marriage to Hendrick’s cousin, Saskia Van Uylenburgh in 1634.

Although both Rembrandt and his wife Saskia were a successful couple, they endured a number of drawbacks. Most notably, their first three children did not manage to live up to adulthood. They died before even reaching a year old. Their fourth child is the only one who had managed to survive into adulthood.

Rembrandt’s most moving art is that of his wife Saskia on her death bed before she departed in 1642 shortly after Titus their fourth child was born. Two of his major art works include Suits of Japanese Armour and Roman Emperors. He died in 1669, on the 4th of October.