born July 15, 1606, Leiden, Neth.
died Oct. 4, 1669, Amsterdam
Dutch painter and etcher.
The son of a prosperous miller in Leiden, he was apprenticed to masters there and in Amsterdam. His early works show the spotlight effects of light and shadow that were to dominate his later works. After moving to Amsterdam in 1631, he quickly became the city's most fashionable portrait painter, and in 1632 he was commissioned to paint the celebrated Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp . Yearning for recognition as a biblical and mythological painter, in 1635 he produced his Sacrifice of Isaac and in 1636 the unconventional masterpiece Danaë . In 1634 he married Saskia van Uylenburgh, a woman of property, and he painted many tender pictures of her until 1642, when Saskia died. That same year he completed his largest painting, the extraordinary but controversial The Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq (known as The Night Watch ), which was a watershed in his life and art. His portrait commissions thereafter declined and he turned increasingly to etchings and biblical subjects. His Christ at Emmaus (1648) exemplifies the quiet dignity and vulnerability of his later spirituality. In 1656, after transferring most of his property to his son, he applied for bankruptcy. In his last decade he treated biblical subjects like portraits, and also did a wealth of self-portraits; many of these paintings evoke a timeless world of quiet, deep emotion. His paintings are characterized by luxuriant brushwork, rich colour, and a mastery of chiaroscuro. The silent human figure, Rembrandt's central subject, contributes to the sense of a shared dialogue between viewer and picture, the foundation of Rembrandt's greatness and of his popularity today.