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July 15th 1606

Birth of Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was born in 1606 in The Dutch Golden Age (1585-1702) where the Dutch Republic was the most prosperous nation in Europe. It led the way in trade, science and the arts. Rembrandt was this periods most dominant figure.

Early on, Rembrandt decided that academic life wasn’t for him and he left university to become a painter’s apprentice. This was only a stepping stone for him as he had greater ambitions of becoming an artist himself. In 1631, he moved to Amsterdam where his career took off. Interestingly, his paintings would offer art lovers today an insight into the Amsterdam of his day. He painted portraits for wealthy families and organisations, as well as scenes from history, mythology and the bible. Many of these paintings or portraits were known as ‘impasto’, owing to the fact that they were created on thick, lumpy paint. His technique also made dramatic use of light and shade.

The Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq, better known as ‘The Night Watch’ was one of his finest examples of effective use of light and shade. It is also famous for rather than showing the soldiers in a formal pose, Rembrandt painted them as though they were about to march into action.

While his career flourished, his private life was clouded by tragedy. He would lose his wife, his son and later in life his lover. Bankruptcy would almost also cripple him, but despite his troubles his later years would be a prolific period artistically. His life work included hundreds of paintings and prints, and interestingly some 90 self portraits, leaving us a record of how he looked throughout his illustrious life, until his death in 1669.

Source: What happened this month in history? – If It Happened Yesterday, It’s History

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