Dutch painter and printmaker, Rembrandt, was a one of the most eminent artist of the seventeenth century. European art is incomplete without his unprecedented work. His artwork made its debut during the golden time period of cultural achievement what the historians call the Dutch Golden Age. His work was in direct opposition to the Baroque style that was prevalent at that time. Moreover his work engendered innovative new genre in painting.
Born on July 15, 1606, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was raised in Leiden, Netherlands. He was born in a financially strong family. His father Harmen Gerritszoon van Rijn was a miller, while mother Neeltgen Willemsdochter van Zuijtbrouck was a baker’s daughter. Even if it was a golden period for Dutch cultural, it was still going through a religious turmoil. His maternal and paternal families followed Roman Catholic and the Dutch Reformed Church respectively. Hence, the religious theme is observed to dominate his work. Despite his deep devotion to Christian faith, he was not linked to either of the churches his family followed.
In his youth Rembrandt attended a Latin school. Later he went on to receive his formal education in arts from at the University of Leiden. He joined apprenticeship with Jacob van Swanenburgh, a Leiden history painter. He was also mentored by Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam for the span of six months before he became apprenticed to Jacob Pynas. He then opened his own studio in collaboration with Jan Lievens during mid 1620s. His workshop took in several great students, among them was Gerrit Dou.
The statesman Constantijn Huygens formed a strong working relationship with Rembrandt when he began to bring commissioned work for him offered by the court of The Hague. It also paved way for him to expand his business as Prince Frederik Hendrik became his devoted customer. In the early 1630s he relocated to Amsterdam where he furthered his business and his capital went higher. There he made a debut of his professional portrait painting. Unsurprisingly, his portraits became immediate success and became associated with Hendrick van Uylenburgh, an art dealer. He then married his wealthy cousin Saskia van Uylenburgh. Following his marriage, his marriage he became a member of the local guild of painters and burgess of Amsterdam.
Notwithstanding the fact that Rembrandt remained a huge success professionally, his personal life suffered terribly owing to a number of tragedies the family endured. Three of his children died weeks after their birth. Only one child made it into adulthood but then his wife died a year after giving birth to the surviving child. Rembrandt captured these painful moments of his sick wife lying on her death bed are among some of his most poignant and profound works.
Following his wife death, Rembrandt developed a reputation of a rake. He had an illicit affair with the caretaker of his son, who sued him for alimony which she won. Then he got involved with a young maiden who was later excommunicated by the church. His indulgent lifestyle exacerbated things for him as he nearly went bankrupt. Eventually, he was forced to sell his house and printing press. The Amsterdam painters’ guild removed him from the circle as they passed a new rule that painters who had hit the rock bottom can no longer be accepted into the guild. His son began a business as an art dealer to get by and eventually he received a commissioned work, it is then things began to settle for him.