Rembrandt van Rijn

Owed money all over town
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Francisco Serrador

Contributor

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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