Today, July 15th, is the birth anniversary of Rembrandt van Rijn.
He is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art and the most important in Dutch history.
His contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age when Dutch Golden Age painting, although in many ways antithetical to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, was extremely prolific and innovative.
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 greatest creative triumphs are exemplified especially in his portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits and illustrations of scenes from the Bible.
His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity.
In his paintings and prints 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”.
Among the more prominent characteristics of Rembrandt’s work are his use of chiaroscuro, the theatrical employment of light and shadow derived from Caravaggio.
His works are very notable.
His dramatic and lively presentation of subjects, devoid of the rigid formality that his contemporaries often displayed, and a deeply felt compassion for mankind, irrespective of wealth and age.
His immediate family—his first wife Saskia, his son Titus and his common-law wife Hendrickje—often figured prominently in his paintings, many of which had mythical, biblical or historical themes.
I am going to name some of the many famous works by Rembrandt:
His self portraits
The Night Watch
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp
Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer
The Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild.
The Philosopher in Meditation.
Artist in his studio.
The Prodigal Son in the Tavern
Descent from the Cross
The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis
Boaz and Ruth
A Polish Nobleman
Jacob de Gheyn III
The Stoning of Saint Stephen
Rembrandt died on October 4 of 1669 in Amsterdam, and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Westerkerk.
Celebrating Rembrandt’s Art!