Dutch Language Blog

Rembrandt van Rijn Posted by on Jun 15, 2010 in Dutch Language

Earlier I talked about Van Gogh, one of the greatest painters from Dutch soil. Even though he is great, he doesn’t stand alone. Rembrandt van Rijn is one of those men whose art became just as famous. Let me tell you a little bit about this other Dutch talent.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was born on July 15, 1606 in Leiden. He is seen as one of the most important Dutch painters of the Seventeenth century, with Johannes Vermeer at his side in this position. His style is called Baroque, influenced by the Caravaggisme. He played fiercely with light and dark. By doing so he created sharp contrasts, called clair-obscur in the world of the painters. Because of this style his paintings were full of lively scenes and drama. Rembrandt completed about 300 paintings, 300 etchings and 2000 drawings.

Rembrandt made historic paintings and portraits, many of which are of himself. He created one hundred painted self portraits and twenty one etched. He always knew how to capture looks and feelings through his portraits, also when he painted himself.

Besides himself, he also often drew his mother, wife Saskia van Uylenburgh and his son Titus. Speculations go that among others, Rembrandts mistress and housekeepers were also models for historic figures in his paintings, although there is no real proof of this.

Rembrandt’s most famous painting is De Nachtwacht (the Night Watcher), made between 1640 and 1643. The painting was a request for the new harquebusiers, a section of the musketeers of the citizen guard. Rembrandt took some distance from the convention to display the marksmen stiff and formal. The home guard is entering from the gate, active and full of life. The captain, Frans Banning Cocq, uses a firm arm gesture for his command and is ready to start walking. Ruytenbursch, the guy next to him, is also getting into action while holding in one hand a pointed weapon. The shooters show how they fill their musket with compact, fire it and how the rest of the compact that didn’t exploded gets blown away. The drummer is ready to ruffle the drums, the dog barks with kids running through the shooters full of excitement. Some shooters are busy talking.

The painting is 4,36 by 3,63 meters. Even though the painting shows a scene during daylight, Rembrandt chose to keep the painting rather dark. Because of this he could center the attention on certain people on the painting. Because of discolorations the painting became even more dark and received the name De Nachtwacht in the Eighteenth Century.

Rembrandt was the only painter who signed his art with his front name. He died in 1669 in Amsterdam.

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