Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn


Born on July 15th, 1606 in Leiden, the Netherlands, Rembrandt was a Dutch painter and etcher. Hi is considered one of the old masters of painting and printmaking.
As a child, he attended Latin school and enrolled in university, but he had a fondness for painting. Thus, he was apprenticed to a Leiden history painter, Jacob van Swanenburgh. After an apprenticeship with famous painter Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam, Rembrandt opened his own studio and accepted students.
Rembrandt was discovered by Constantijn Huygens, who procured his commissions from the court of The Hague. In 1631, Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam and began as a professional portraitist. In a couple of years, Rembrandt moved to a fancy house in Jodenbreestraat, where he frequently sought his Jewish neighbors to model for his Old Testament works.
Before his death in 1669, he was still procuring major commissions for portraits and other works.

Style and periods

In a letter to his discoverer, Rembrandt said he sought to achieve "the greatest and most natural movement" in his art.
His etchings and drawings are of the most interest to us. His works display much freedom and breadth. Some drawings have large areas of white space for space; some have complex lines and dark tones.
Some of his main subjects seemed to have been Biblical scenes, landscapes, and portraits during different periods of his work.
Modern estimates credit him with around 300 paintings, 300 etchings, and 2000 drawings.


I like his style due to his major use of varying thin and thick lines to produce most of the information in his drawings. They have almost no shading, and the light and dark areas are mostly conveyed with thin and thick lines. The style is very expressive, somewhat unlike my own, so it's a nice contrast. Many times his drawings seem very messy, but they produce very deep sense of emotion and presence.

This piece shows Daniel in the Lion's Den using pen and bistre. He incorporates studies he made of lions to produce a mature depiction of the animals. The peaceful and content expression on Daniel's face is very clear, even though it is made with just a few seemingly haphazard lines. Somehow, with his squiggles, he conveys the sense of space and the height of the ceiling

This piece shows a view of London with Old St. Paul's from the north. Again, you can see the varying thickness of the lines, the squiggles and expressive nature of the work. Many random lines make up a coherent piece of information, along with large swaths of white space, giving a sense of openness.

This piece shows Cottages Amongst High Trees using pen and brush in bistre. Such a simple drawing using squiggles and lines, yet it shows all that it needs to show. The lines seem to flow without stiffness and exact purpose, but nevertheless come together to form the image nicely.


Slive, Seymour. Drawings of Rembrandt: Volume I. Toronto: Dover Publications Inc., 1965.

Slive, Seymour. Drawings of Rembrandt: Volume II. Toronto: Dover Publications Inc., 1965.

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