Rembrandt Paintings


Rembrandt (born July 15, 1606, Leiden, Netherlands—died October 4, 1669, Amsterdam), Dutch Renaissance painter and engraver, regarded as one of the outstanding storytellers in the world of art, with an unparalleled ability to represent humans in their different moods and spectacular guises. Rembrandt is also recognized as a painter of both light and shade and an artist who embraced unflinching realism, leading some critics to conclude that he embraced ugliness over beauty.

Rembrandt mostly produced portraits beginning in his profession and for a while. During his career, he continued to paint and etch and, on occasional events, draw—portraits, but he did so less regularly. One-tenth of his painting and etching output is made up of investigations of his face and more traditional self-portraits, which has sparked much conjecture.

However, most of Rembrandt's work is made up of scriptural and, to a lesser degree, historical, mythical, and symbolic "history pieces," all of which he painted, carved, or drew in pen and ink or chalked. Rembrandt's style evolved dramatically over his lifetime. Even within a single piece, his composition and representation of space and light, as well as his manipulation of contour, figure, brushwork, color, and (in his engravings and etchings) arrangement of line and tone, undergo a progressive (or sometimes dramatic) shift.

Night Watch (1640/42) was a watershed moment in his aesthetic evolution. These modifications are not the consequence of unintentional evolution; rather, they should be viewed as evidence of a purposeful quest in graphic and narrative terms, sometimes in conversation with his great forefathers.

Early Life of Rembrandt

Rembrandt was indeed the fourth of ten siblings to survive. Contrary to many of his contemporaries, he did not originate from an artistic or crafty family; his father, Harmen Gerritszoon van Rijn (1568-1630), seems to have been a miller. His mom, Neeltgen Willemsdochter van Zuytbrouck (1568-1640), was a baker's daughter.

Rembrandt's surname was and still is exceptionally unusual. It sounds similar to other frequent Dutch first names like Gerbrand, Remmert, and IJsbrand. Rembrandt's signature on his work developed substantially over time. He marked his work solely as a young fellow with the acronym RH (Rembrandt Harmenszoon, "son of Harmen"); from 1626/27, using RHL; and also in 1632, with RHL van Rijn (the L in the emblem possibly stands for Leidensis, "from Leiden," the place where he was born).

Rembrandt, like other Dutch children of the time, attended primary school (c. 1612-16), followed by the Latin School in Leiden (c. 1616–1620), wherein biblical studies and classical were the principal topics taught. The focus on oratory abilities at school may have helped his capacity to "stage" the individuals in his historical paintings, sketches, and etchings. It is unclear if Rembrandt finished his studies at the Latin School.

Jan Janszoon Orlers (1570-1646), Rembrandt's first biographer, gave a hagiographic half-page autobiography of him in the book Beschrijvinge der stadt Leyden (1641; "Description of the Town of Leyden"). Orlers stated that Rembrandt was expelled from school early and shipped to be taught as a painter of his own choice. Rembrandt's enrollment at Leiden University on May 20, 1620, doesn't necessarily invalidate this.

It was common for Leiden boys to be classified as students without even being obliged to attend any sessions, either for tax reasons or simply because they previously attended the Latin School. The depth of Rembrandt's intellectual growth and whatever impact it could have had on his art remains to be discovered.

Arnold Houbraken, a Rembrandt biographer, cites some other Amsterdam historical painter, Jakob Pynas, as one of Rembrandt's tutors. (In 1718, Houbraken published the most thorough early biography and portrayal of Rembrandt as an artist, however, it was tainted by fabricated tales).

Based on stylistic reasons, one might hypothesize the influence Jan Lievens would have on Rembrandt throughout his schooling. Lievens, a year younger than Rembrandt and a prodigy at the moment Rembrandt must have chosen to become a painter, was already a full-fledged artist.

The Leiden period (1625–31) of Rembrandt

Rembrandt established himself as an autonomous master in Leiden in about 1625. He built the groundwork for his later works and fascinations during the next six years. Lastman's work significantly influenced his early paintings. In other instances, he disassembled and reassembled Lastman's vivid melodies into new works.

This was one of the common approaches used by aspiring painters to develop their style under the supervision of a master. Given that Rembrandt created his variants on Lastman's prototypes after returning to Leiden as a self-sufficient young artist, one may surmise that Rembrandt was attempting to resemble his old instructor by selecting the latter's themes but entirely "rephrasing" them.

Rembrandt's productivity as a painter was mostly focused on small-scale historical paintings and tronies throughout his Leiden era (single figures in  Middle Eastern, historicizing, Asian, or imaginary costumes that connote old age, soldierly bravery, piety, Asia, transience, the Middle East, and so on). Tronies were not supposed to be portraits, yet people should have posed for them (in the midst of them, Rembrandt himself, in the mirror).

During this time, Rembrandt might have had a studio with Lievens, who, like Rembrandt, had finished his training under Lastman—albeit six years earlier. The two teenage artists dabbled with paint consistency, seeking to represent diverse materials using differences in the paint surface. In these early years, Lievens may have had a greater impact on Rembrandt than vice versa.

His paintings from shortly after he left Lastman have a waxworks aspect to them, with evenly lighted, colorful characters acting in a neatly arranged area. The function of light was fundamental to the dramatic transformation in Rembrandt's style that occurred between 1627 and 1629. Rembrandt achieved "spotlight" effects by focusing the light and exaggerating the muted trumpet of the intensity of light in relationship to the proximity from either the light source. Like Caravaggio, his great Italian forefather in this discipline, Rembrandt had to compensate by keeping big portions veiled in darkness to produce believable light effects.

First Amsterdam period (1631–1635/36) of Rembrandt

In 1631, Rembrandt began working with Hendrick Uylenburgh, an Amsterdam painter who managed a big studio where he painted portraits, restored paintings, and made copies, among other things. Uylenburgh supposedly prompted Rembrandt to abandon Leiden, which was in decline, for Amsterdam, which was booming.

It is debatable if Rembrandt had indeed gone to Amsterdam in 1631. Some Rembrandt experts argue that he commuted between Leiden and Amsterdam for many years. The Haarlemmermeer (a big, now-drained lake) divided the two cities at the time, and it could be crossed by frequent public transportation. However, Rembrandt joined the Amsterdam St. Luke's guild only in 1634; in the same year, Rembrandt married Uylenburgh's niece, Saskia van Uylenburgh (1612–42).


From 1631 through 1635, Rembrandt worked in Uylenburgh's workshop, producing many portraits (often pairs of pendants) and some ensemble portraits, such as The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632). He must have quickly dominated the Amsterdam portrait business.

Using his background as a history painter, he made considerably more lively portraits than the specialized portrait paintings that commanded the Amsterdam scene before his arrival.

Rembrandt avoided diverting the viewer's attention by reducing the amount of information and employing basic yet dynamic shapes. He drew the viewer's attention to the figure's face and implied movement. He was also incredibly skilled at authentically depicting human skin.

Second Amsterdam Period (1635–42)

Rembrandt had left the home of Uylenburgh by the end of 1635 and had positioned himself separately from his family. After living and working in leased quarters, he purchased a big home erected in 1606-07 and adjacent to the building where he began his Amsterdam career with Uylenburgh in 1639. Rembrandt received only about one-third of the original asking amount. He will eventually face serious problems as a result of the unpaid obligation. Rembrandt resided and worked at this residence for about two decades.

The self-portrait from 1640 belongs to a kind of painting known as trompe l'oeil. Viewers are tricked for a brief moment by the illusion that they are in the same place as the painting's subject, ignoring that they are staring at a flat surface and enjoying the satisfaction of this illusion. Rembrandt's works from 1639 to 1642 include still lives with dead birds, portraiture, and group portraits featuring trompe l'oeil effects. Some of his disciples, notably Samuel van Hoogstraten, Rembrandt's German pupil,  and Fabritius Christoph Paudiss, continued using trompe l'oeil techniques during this time.

Night Watch

During the second quarter of the 1630s, Rembrandt was concerned with Leonardo da Vinci, particularly his Last Supper (1495-98), which he learned from a replica print. Several of Rembrandt's drawn versions (1635) of Leonardo's composition show that he was most concerned by the topic of homogeneity in the figure grouping. The Wedding of Samson (1638) might be considered as Rembrandt's attempt to outdo Leonardo in the creative challenge given by this melodic difficulty and generate a brighter scene than Leonardo had accomplished in his Last Supper.

Sort by:
Man in a Golden Helmet c. 1650
The NightWatch

The NightWatch

$55.00 – $2,651.00
Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp

Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp

$55.00 – $2,651.00
The Polish Rider 1655

The Polish Rider 1655

$55.00 – $2,651.00
Philosopher in Meditation 1632

Philosopher in Meditation 1632

$55.00 – $2,651.00