Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, the son of a miller, was born in Leiden on July 15, 1606. Despite the fact that he came from a family of relatively modest means, his parents took great care with his education. Rembrandt began his studies at the Latin School, and at the age of 14 he was enrolled at the University of Leiden. The program did not interest him, and he soon left to study art, first with a local master, Jacob van Swanenburch, and then, with Pieter Lastman, in Amsterdam. After six months Rembrandt mastered everything he had been taught, he returned to Leiden, where he was soon so highly regarded that although only 22 years old, he took his first pupils. Though he is best known for his paintings he also created etchings and illustrations.
Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam in 1631 and married Saskia van Uylenburgh; the cousin of a successful art dealer in 1634, bringing him in contact with wealthy patrons who eagerly commissioned portraits. In addition, Rembrandt's mythological and religious works were much in demand, and he painted numerous dramatic masterpieces. Because of his renown as a teacher, his studio was filled with pupils, some of whom were already trained artists.
In contrast to his successful public career, however, Rembrandt's family life was marked by misfortune. Between 1635 and 1641 Saskia gave birth to four children, but only the last, Titus, survived; her own death came in 1642, at the age of 30. Hendrickje Stoffels, engaged as his housekeeper about 1649, eventually became his common-law wife and was the model for many of his pictures. Despite Rembrandt's financial success as an artist, teacher, and art dealer, his expensive lifestyle forced him to declare bankruptcy in 1656. An inventory of his collection of art and antiquities, taken before an auction to pay his debts, showed the variety of Rembrandt's interests: ancient sculpture, Flemish and Italian Renaissance paintings, Far Eastern art, contemporary Dutch works, weapons, and armor. Unfortunately, the results of the auction, including the sale of his house, were disappointing. These problems in no way affected Rembrandt's work; if anything, his artistry increased. His personal life, however, continued to be marred by sorrow. His beloved Hendrickje died in 1663, and his son, Titus, in 1668, only 27 years of age. Eleven months later, on October 4, 1669, Rembrandt died in Amsterdam.
Rembrandt’s development can be divided into four basic periods: the Leiden Period, the first Amsterdam Period, the Middle Period, and the Mature Period. Rembrandt was influenced and inspired by many different artists, from great Italian masters of the past, to his second teacher Pieter Lastman. (Rosenberg, Jakob., Seymour Slive., E. H. Ter Kuile. " Rembrandt Van Rijn." Dutch Art and Architecture 1600 to 1800. Baltimore, MA: Penguin Books, 1966. 48-81)
Although Rembrandt never traveled to Italy, one of the largest influences on Rembrandt...