Print this page

Sources returnpage

Rembrandt

Category: Artist and sculptor

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 –1669) was a Dutch painter and etcher. He is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history and the most important in Dutch history.   His contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age.

Having achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, Rembrandt's later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardships. Yet his etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his reputation as an artist remained high, and for twenty years he taught many important Dutch painters. Rembrandt's greatest creative triumphs are exemplified especially in his portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits and illustrations of scenes from the Bible. His self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity.

In his paintings and prints he exhibited knowledge of classical iconography, which he moulded to fit the requirements of his own experience; thus, the depiction of a biblical scene was informed by Rembrandt's knowledge of the specific text, his assimilation of classical composition, and his observations of Amsterdam's Jewish population. Because of his empathy for the human condition, he has been called "one of the great prophets of civilization."

Self-portrait (1630)

What inspired him?  Well, he benefited greatly from  LOVE for his fellow human beings.  But he was not without worry. 

In 1639 Rembrandt and Saskia moved into a prominent newly built house (now the Rembrandt House Museum). The mortgage was 13,000 guilders. Rembrandt should easily have been able to pay the house off with his large income, but it appears his spending always kept pace with his income - he lived beyond his means, buying art, prints (often used in his paintings), and rarities.  In 1656 he was declared bankrupt and was forced to sell off all his assets under a  court arrangement to avoid his bankruptcy.  His financial problems contributed a great deal to his stress.

Self-portrait (1658).
 

He also suffered a great deal of grief.  His son Rumbartus died two months after his birth in 1635 and their daughter Cornelia died at just three weeks of age in 1638. In 1640, they had a second daughter, also named Cornelia, who died after living barely over a month. Only their fourth child, Titus, who was born in 1641, survived into adulthood. Saskia died in 1642 soon after Titus's birth. Rembrandt's drawings of her on her sick and death bed are among his most moving works.

And it also appears he too was a victim of the arists's afflictions from heavy metal poisoning.

 

 

 

 

Rembrandt--aging and sickness: a combined look by plastic surgeons, an art researcher and an internal medicine specialist - Friedman T, Westreich M, Lurie DJ, Golik A;  Department of Plastic Surgery, Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, Zerifin, Israel. mony@netvision.net.il
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) left behind the largest collection of self-portraits in the history of art. These portraits were painted over a period of 41 years, using a realistic technique. To evaluate Rembrandt's aging process we studied 25 uncontested Rembrandt oil self-portraits by means of objective and descriptive techniques. By measuring brow position changes through the years, we demonstrated that brow descent started in the second half of the third decade and began to level out in the fourth decade. Based on Rembrandts' aging physiognomy, from age 22 to 63, we believe that Rembrandt did not suffer from temporal arteritis, hypothyroidism, rosacea, or rhynophima and that no other facial signs of systemic diseases are evident, contrary to the opinions expressed by other medical professionals. We suggest that Rembrandt suffered from melancholia or mild depression, and propose the possibility of chronic lead poisoning as a theoretical illness that he might have had.
PMID17348473

Rembrandt outlived his son Titus. He died within a year of his son, on October 4, 1669 in Amsterdam, and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Westerkerk.

References

Wikipaintings now has a good selection of his paintings - follow this LINK

Rembrandt was not a spiritually minded person, and whatever views of the afterlife he had were informed by religion, not by direct experience or even inspiration.  He was a technical genius with an ability to capture the personality of his sitters extremely well.  So why is he on this site?  Because once in a while, perhaps during moments of terrible strain or through illness, something else gets through.  There is very very little symbolism in his paintings, but he captures on some occasions something a bit different.

Observations

For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.