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1606–69, Dutch painter, etcher, and draftsman, born in Leiden.
Rembrandt is acknowledged as the greatest master of the Dutch school.
The Leiden Years
Amsterdam: Success, Bankruptcy, and a Developing Style
Affluent and successful, he began to collect numerous works of art, costumes, and curiosities, always learning from the art and often using the costumes in his portraits. During this period his style acquired a new richness of color and greater plasticity of form. He incorporated the vigor, opulence, and drama of the baroque movement, best seen in The Sacrifice of Abraham (St. Petersburg) and The Blinding of Samson (1636, Frankfurt). His studio was filled with pupils, including Jacob Backer, Govaert Flinck, Ferdinand Bol, and later the gifted Carel Fabritius and Nicholas Maes.
Serious financial difficulties began for Rembrandt with his purchase of an impressive house in 1639. Saskia died in 1642 after the birth of their only surviving child, Titus, who was later to become Rembrandt's favorite portrait subject. During the same year he completed his most famous group portrait, The Shooting Company of Capt. Frans Banning Cocq (Rijks Mus.) This work is traditionally called The Night Watch, although a cleaning in 1946–47 revealed a daylight setting. In this work and others instead of painting a conventional group portrait, Rembrandt made of it a crowd spectacle, sacrificing individual identities to dramatic, high-contrast lighting.
During the 1640s Rembrandt developed an enduring interest in landscape. He made numerous etchings, including Three Trees and Christ Healing the Sick, executed with exceptional spontaneity and vigor, and created many works solely for his own pleasure, an unusual practice for his time. This, together with his art collecting, eventually caused financial ruin.
Later Years, Late Masterworks
The powerful night scene The Conspiracy of the Batavians (1661; Stockholm) is the remaining fragment of his most monumental historical work. To the 1660s belong The Family Group (Brunswick), The Jewish Bride (Rijks Mus.), and The Syndics of the Cloth Guild (1662; Rijks Mus.), all of which are loosely structured, flamelike in color, and psychologically penetrating. Personal tragedy struck the master with the death of Hendrickje in 1663 and of Titus in 1668. Rembrandt lived for one more year, survived by Cornelia, his and Hendrickje's only child.
Comprehensive editions of his works have been compiled: his paintings by Abraham Bredius (rev. by Hearst Gerson, 3d ed. 1969), his etchings by A. M. Hind (2d ed. 1923, repr. 1967), and his drawings by Otto Benesch (6 vol., 1954–58).
See studies of his life and works by Otto Benesch, Essays on Rembrandt (Vol. I of Benesch's Collected Works, tr. 1970); biography by Ludwig Munz and Bob Haak (1984); study by Oliver Banks (1982).
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