Dutch painter and etcher



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Dutch painter and etcher
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Birth Date

July 15, 1606

Death Date

October 04, 1669

Arty Fact


Rembrandt van Rijn was loving life and doing great...until he got married.

He took out a giant mortgage to buy an expensive house. This, combined with his lavish spending on art, landed him in financial trouble that lasted pretty much the rest of his life. Eventually, Rembrandt was banned from selling paintings altogether by the Amsterdam Painter's Guild because the Guild got tired of him running up debts and not paying. To get around this obstacle, he set his son and his second wife up in the art business, ate his pride and worked for them as an employee.

Money troubles weren't all that plagued poor Rembrandt. His first three children all died shortly after birth, and only his fourth made it to adulthood. While said fourth child was still a child, Rembrandt's wife got tuberculosis and died. Until you feel too sorry for him, it's important to note Rembrandt had an affair with the nurse who took care of his dying wife. Though this also did not have a happy ending. When Rembrandt dumped the mistress, she accused him of breach of promise to marry her and got alimony from him. She also pawned jewelry from wife #1. Rembrandt tried, but failed to have her committed to a poorhouse. 

After the nurse, sad old Rembrandt made a move on his maid. She was much younger, and her church did not approve. They accused her of having "committed the acts of a whore with Rembrandt the painter." Ouch. Left alone, Rembrandt painted himself - a lot. He produced over 90 self portraits! We assume he couldn't afford models, or no longer trusted himself around young women. Otherwise we're not sure he would so often highlight his less-than-attractive mug.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Rembrandt

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (/ˈrɛmbrænt, -brɑːnt/;Dutch: [ˈrɛmbrɑnt ˈɦɑrmə(n)soːn vɑn ˈrɛin] (About this soundlisten); July 15, 1606 – October 4, 1669) was a Dutch draughtsman, painter and printmaker. An innovative and prolific master in three media, he is generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art and the most important in Dutch art history. Unlike most Dutch masters of the 17th century, Rembrandt's works depict a wide range of style and subject matter, from portraits and self-portraits to landscapes, genre scenes, allegorical and historical scenes, biblical and mythological themes as well as animal studies. His contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age, when Dutch art (especially Dutch painting), although in many ways antithetical to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, was extremely prolific and innovative, and gave rise to important new genres. Like many artists of the Dutch Golden Age, such as Jan Vermeer of Delft, Rembrandt was also an avid art collector and dealer.

Rembrandt never went abroad, but he was considerably influenced by the work of the Italian masters and Netherlandish artists who had studied in Italy, like Pieter Lastman, the Utrecht Caravaggists, and Flemish Baroque Peter Paul Rubens. Having achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, Rembrandt's later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardships. Yet his etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his reputation as an artist remained high, and for twenty years he taught many important Dutch painters.

Rembrandt's portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits and illustrations of scenes from the Bible are regarded as his greatest creative triumphs. His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity. Rembrandt's foremost contribution in the history of printmaking was his transformation of the etching process from a relatively new reproductive technique into a true art form, along with Jacques Callot. His reputation as the greatest etcher in the history of the medium was established in his lifetime and never questioned since. Few of his paintings left the Dutch Republic whilst he lived, but his prints were circulated throughout Europe, and his wider reputation was initially based on them alone.

In his works he exhibited knowledge of classical iconography, which he molded to fit the requirements of his own experience; thus, the depiction of a biblical scene was informed by Rembrandt's knowledge of the specific text, his assimilation of classical composition, and his observations of Amsterdam's Jewish population. Because of his empathy for the human condition, he has been called "one of the great prophets of civilization". The French sculptor Auguste Rodin said, "Compare me with Rembrandt! What sacrilege! With Rembrandt, the colossus of Art! We should prostrate ourselves before Rembrandt and never compare anyone with him!"Vincent van Gogh wrote, "Rembrandt goes so deep into the mysterious that he says things for which there are no words in any language. It is with justice that they call Rembrandt—magician—that's no easy occupation."

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Rembrandt.