History Biography Geography Science Games

Art History and Artists


Biography >> Art History


Where did Rembrandt grow up?

Rembrandt van Rijn was born on July 15, 1606 in Leiden, Netherlands. He came from a large family where he was the ninth child. His father was a miller and saw to it that Rembrandt had an excellent education.

Rembrandt began attending the University of Leiden, but really wanted to study art. Eventually he left school to become an apprentice to the artist Jacob van Swanenburgh. He also was a student of the painter Pieter Lastman.

Early Years

It didn't take long for Rembrandt to become known for his skill as a painter. He opened his own art studio when he was nineteen and was teaching others how to paint by the time he was twenty-one.

In 1631 Rembrandt moved to the city of Amsterdam where he started to paint portraits of people professionally.

The Portrait

In the 1600s cameras had not yet been invented, so people had portraits painted of themselves and their families. Rembrandt gained the reputation as a great portrait artist. Many art critics today think that he was one of the greatest portrait artists of all time. He also painted numerous (over 40) self-portraits and portraits of his family. Sometimes he would spice these up by wearing fancy and colorful clothes.

Portrait of a Man

Portrait of a Woman

What made Rembrandt's Portraits Special?

Rembrandt had a way of capturing a person's personality and emotion on the canvas. The people looked natural and real. In some of his paintings it feels as if the person in the painting is looking directly at you. In his later years he became more confident. He wouldn't just paint people in a line or sitting still, he would have them appear active. He also used light and shadow to create a mood.

Rembrandt Selft Portrait 1659
A self-portrait of Rembrandt from 1659
(Click image to see larger version)

The Night Watch

The most famous painting by Rembrandt is the Night Watch. It was a large portrait (over 14 feet long and nearly 12 feet tall) of Captain Banning Cocq and seventeen of his militiamen. A typical portrait at this time would have shown the men lined up in a row, each man looking similar and the same size. Rembrandt thought this would be boring, however. He painted each man doing something different in what looks more like a large action scene.

Rembrant's The Night Watch Painting
The Night Watch
(Click image to see larger version)

Scenes from the Bible and Landscapes

Rembrandt didn't just paint portraits. He also enjoyed painting scenes from the Bible and landscapes. Some of his paintings that depict scenes from the Bible include The Raising of Lazarus, The Return of the Prodigal Son, and The Visitation. Some of his landscapes include Winter Scene, Landscape with a Stony Bridge, and Stormy Landscape.

Return of the Prodigal Son
(Click image to see larger version)


Today Rembrandt is considered one of the greatest artists in history and, by some, the greatest Dutch painter of all time. He painted over 600 paintings and had a large influence on other painters throughout art history.

Interesting Facts about Rembrandt More examples of Rembrandt's Art:

The Money Lender by Rembrandt
The Money Lender
(Click to see larger version)

The Syndics of the Clothmakers Guild
(Click to see larger version)


  • Listen to a recorded reading of this page:

  • Movements Ancient Art Artists Art Terms and Timeline

    Works Cited

    Biography >> Art History

    Ducksters Footer Gif with Ducks

    About Ducksters Privacy Policy 


    This site is a product of TSI (Technological Solutions, Inc.), Copyright 2024, All Rights Reserved. By using this site you agree to the Terms of Use.