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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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Originally posted on The Squirrel Review.

Self-Portrait with Two Circles by Rembrandt (1659-1660)

If the aim of self-portraiture is defined as the production of a painting displaying  perfect likeness to one’s physical self, Rembrandt van Rijn was a master of this medium for much of his artistic life. However, when one defines the aim of a self-portrait more subtly, that of providing an honest window into the deep and personal character of an artist, Rembrandt only began to succeed towards the end of his life. This truth is exemplified in what many consider to be one of the artists greatest masterpieces, Self-Portrait with Two Circles.

In his earlier self-portraits, Rembrandt depicts himself as handsome, successful, and fashionable – indeed, far more like a gentleman than an artist. From his clothing to his posture, the artist reflected upon the glamorous…

via Self-Portrait with Two Circles by Rembrandt (1659-1660) | The Squirrel Review.


466px-Rembrandt_van_Rijn_184

Self-portrait with gorget by Rembrandt, circa 1629. Oil on oak panel. Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg

Do you have a favourite Rembrandt?  Of course, it’s an invidious question.  Which of us can choose only one from any artists’ oeuvre, let alone that of a Master such as Rembrandt [1606-1669].  If I had a gun to my back, it would be one of his early self-portraits, Self-portrait with gorget [above], which lays bare a touching vulnerability and innocence.  I suspect that part of the attraction lies in its passing resemblance to my maternal forebears in the set of the eyes!

Click here to see the choice of Katherine Blood, Curator of Fine Prints at the Library of Congress.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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