Rembrandt's Biography

( 1606-1669)

Many of the early events in Rembrandt's life are sketchy, but there are a few known facts.

Born in Leiden, The Netherlands on July 15, 1606, Rembrandt was the son of a miller and the ninth of possibly ten children. He attended the Latin School between the ages of seven and fourteen, preparing for classical studies. Rembrandt then briefly enrolled at Leiden University, leaving after less than a year to study painting with Jacob Issaacz van Swanenburgh. After several years under van Swanenburgh's tutelage, he then completed his formal training at age eighteen under the historical painter Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam.

In 1625, Rembrandt returned to Leiden and began his career as an independent artist, painting religious depiction's from the Old Testament of the Bible. Himself a devout Protestant, his work was deeply humanistic, yet intensely spiritual. His father passed away in 1630, the same year the artist neglected his painting and turned out more etchings than any other year of his life.

With a return to Amsterdam and the completion of his first commissioned portraits in 1631, Rembrandt's life was never to be the same. He enjoyed much success during the next ten years. He married Saskia van Uylenburgh, the wealthy niece of an art dealer friend. He became a master portraitist, receiving numerous commissions to paint portraits of affluent Amsterdam families. It was also during this time that he began his experimentation with etching techniques.

During the last hour of his life, Rembrandt experienced a number of personal losses, making a profound impact on his creative style. His beloved wife and mother both passed away within the same year. After Saskia's death, his fortune was depleted due to mismanagement, eventually leading to bankruptcy. In his art, Rembrandt began to show a renewed interest in religious subject matter and developed an interest in historical themes.

Rembrandt died on October 4, 1669, leaving behind an abundance of self-portraits, giving one a glimpse into how the artist viewed himself and the human condition. His talent was not fully appreciated during his lifetime, but since the 19th century his stature has continued to soar.