Rembrandt Harmenszoon was a Dutch painter and etcher who was born on 15th July, 1606 in Leiden, Dutch Republic which is now the Netherlands. Rembrandt is generally considered as one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European Art and the most important in Dutch history. As a child, he was named Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. He was the ninth child born to his parents Harmen Gerritszoon van Rijn and Neeltgen Willemsdochter van Zuytbrouck.
His father was a miller and his mother was a baker’s daughter. From 1612 to 1616, Rembrandt attended elementary school. He then joined Latin School in Leiden where he partook in biblical studies and lessons on the classics. The program did not interest him and he soon left to study art with a local master, Jacob van Swanenburch and later in Amsterdam with Pieter Lastman who was known for his historical paintings.
After that, Rembrandt opened a studio in Leiden in 1624 of 1625. He shared it with friend and colleague Jan Lievens. In the year 1627, he began to accept students, among them one were Gerrit Dou. In the late 1630s he printed many landscapes and produced etchings about the nature. He established such a sound reputation that he received several assignments for portraits from Amsterdam in 1631. His work became more sober starting in about 1640, reflecting the family tragedies that he had suffered.
Between the year 1640 to 1642, Rembrandt painted The Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq. Rembrandt’s style changed again in 1650. A Sicilian nobleman who was a discerning collector commissioned a painting from Rembrandt in 1652. If the painting was satisfactory, two more were to be ordered. Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer was completed in the year 1653 and was shipped off to Sicily. Later two more additional pictured were sent in 1661.
He painted some of his finest self-portraits showing a face on which grief and sorrow had left their marks. He painted an enormous canvas for the splendid new town hall in Amsterdam in 1660 and 1661. It was the Conspiracy of the Batavians, or the Oath of Julius Civilis, known to us through the remaining fragment and a penand-wash drawing of the entire composition.
To talk about his personal life, he married twice. At first he got married to Saskia van Uylenburg who was a daughter of patrician. She was the one who introduced Rembrandt to higher social circles, which increased his fame. The couple got married in the year 1634. Three of their sons died shortly after the birth. Later, in 1641, they had their fourth child, a son whom they named Titus. Soon after that, Saskia died from tuberculosis in 1642.
He began a relationship with the much younger Hendrickje Stoffels in the late 1640s. She was his maid. The couple had a daughter together. Rembrandt outlived both Hendrickje, who died in 1663 and Titus who died in 1668, leaving a baby daughter. Within a year after the death of his son, he died on 4th October 1669 in Amsterdam and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Westerkerk.
Apart from that, Rembrandt had painted many self portraits over his lifetime; 40 to be precise. One of his better ones is the Self Portrait which was painted in 1658. His most notable collections of work are at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum including De Nachtwacht and Het Joodse bruidje. Because of his empathy for the human condition, Rembrandt has been called as “one of the great prophets of civilization”.