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Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669)
Also known as: Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn; RembrandtBirth Place: Leyden (South Holland, Netherlands)
Rembrandt van RijnRembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, known around the world as Rembrandt, not only had a gifted artistic eye but he was also a brilliant intellectual. Born July 15, 1606, Rembrandt studied Latin at an early age and was accepted as a student at the University of Leiden at the tender age of 14. Like many creative minds, he soon grew bored with classroom lectures and returned home to pursue his love of painting.
By the time he was 22 years of age, Rembrandt had surpassed the local professional artists under whom he studied and began teaching his own students. While his work was certainly noteworthy, he benefited from the exposure he gained when he fell in love with and married Saskia van Uylenburgh, who was related to Hendrick van Uylenburgh. During the Dutch Golden Age, Hendrick was one of the most successful dealers in the art world. Through Uylenburgh, Rembrandt connected with many of society's top echelon who paid handsomely to have their portraits painted by the new hit sensation.
Soon Rembrandt emerged from the shadows of his benefactor as his talent became obvious to the rich collectors of the day. During his earlier years he was particularly in demand for painting portraits of high society art patrons. Around this time he started taking his painting seriously as a profession. Some of his most recognized works from that period are Belshazzar's Feast, Danaë, The Blinding of Samson and Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.
Even as he was becoming renowned in the art world, Rembrandt's home life was in a downward spiral. Between 1635 and 1640, he and his wife had a son and two daughters, all of whom died as babies. Finally their son Titus, born in 1641, survived past infancy, but then Saskia herself passed away in 1642. Rembrandt poured his grief into his work, and his paintings of Saskia as she was near death are noted as some of his most emotional and detailed portraits.
Rembrandt found love again with little Titus' hired caregiver Hendrickje Stoffels, who later became a model for his paintings. Despite his early success and wealth, Rembrandt's lack of enthusiasm for money management led to bankruptcy. During this dark period of the 1650's, he still turned out masterpieces such as Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph, The Jewish Bride, his own self portrait and Bathsheba. His son Titus died at the age of 27 in 1968, and Rembrandt followed shortly thereafter, succumbing on October 4, 1669.
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