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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

Dutch (active Leiden and Amsterdam), 1606 - 1669

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Rembrandt was born to a prosperous miller’s family in the university town of Leiden. After a year at the university, he left to train as a painter, apprenticing with a local artist and another in Amsterdam before returning to practice in Leiden around 1624 or 1625. He quickly built a reputation as a bold and innovative painter of scenes from literature, mythology, and the Bible, then considered the most noble subjects for art. He took on his first two pupils in 1628 and went on to train more than fifty apprentices in his studio during his lifetime.

In 1631 Rembrandt moved from Leiden back to the bustling port city of Amsterdam. There he became a highly sought-after portraitist, and about 1633 secured a prestigious commission from Frederik Hendrik, the Dutch head of state, to paint a series of scenes from the Passion of Christ. In the decades that followed, the artist faced numerous personal hardships: the deaths of his wife Saskia and three of their children; legal entanglements resulting from an affair with his family’s nursemaid; and bankruptcy, which led to the loss of his home and the auctioning of his large collection of art, weapons, and curiosities. Some of his greatest works stem from this late period, when his art grew in power and insight, his brushwork bold and loose, and he continued to innovate in his imagery.

Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus, 2011

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