Essay on Rembrandt Van Rijn

Submitted By caitlinjessica2
Words: 1523
Pages: 7

Caitlin Thompson
Ms. Woodbury
Drawing II
13 March 2015
Rembrandt van Rijn Rembrandt van Rijn, a master of the Dutch Golden Age in the seventeenth century, paved his way through history ultimately becoming one of the greatest painters in Western art. Rembrandt is attributed to over three hundred paintings–a third of that being self-portraits–and over one thousand drawings. That being said, every bit of success earned by Rembrandt was well earned. Truly a brilliant artist, Rembrandt excelled technically and intellectually. Rembrandt’s art is know for being extremely personal with his work; despite the mastered, conventional skill of his technical abilities, Rembrandt was still able to evoke emotions through his artwork. Born in the city of Leiden in the Netherlands on July 15, 1606; Rembrandt began his studies at the world-renowned University of Leiden at the age of fourteen. From a young age, Rembrandt was aware of the academic life not being suitable for him. He left Leiden because it lacked the artistic talent he desired to study in Amsterdam in 1924 where he studied with Pieter Lastman. After his studies as a painter, Rembrandt returned to his home in Leiden to become an independent painter where he also shared a workshop with Jan Lievens. Rembrandt’s career started after the Protestant Reformation, which proved to be difficult for artists as this was a time where churches no longer provided artists the opportunity to do commissions. Because of the lack of work, Rembrandt forced himself to create a name for himself as a painter of historical topics. Like a true Dutchman, Rembrandt refused to adopt the techniques of other great masters in Italy (as many artists were advised to do) because he believed that everything he ever needed to learn was available in his home country of The Netherlands. Rembrandt began his career by taking commissions in The Hague, and painting portraits for families. The latter is how he met his wife, Saskia. Saskia came from a wealthy family and from there Rembrandt began to live lavishly, he bought a large house and many paintings by famous artists such as Raphael and Titian. But eventually, the van Rijn family ran out of money to support their lifestyle and soon declared bankruptcy and sold their prized possessions at auction. Rembrandt’s life truly was his art. He sketched endlessly and he sketched everything: beggars, circus people, landscapes, and friends. Rembrandt is mainly known for his paintings where he has mastered oil painting techniques. He never limited himself to single technique, he unitized them all and innovated his own. Being from the Dutch Golden Age, which followed the ways of Baroque art, the work of Rembrandt greatly resembles the work of Caravaggio, but much like other Dutch Golden Age artists, Rembrandt geared the Caravaggesque style more towards still lifes, landscapes, and most famously—portraits. Rembrandt’s oil paintings are mostly done on panels or canvas, which he primed with a thick glue-like gesso. He worked in many layers, and really took his time. Although it is fairly obvious that Rembrandt is a versatile artist that did not follow the same procedure for each painting, Rembrandt almost always made a final layer of brown imprimatura to create that unique golden-brown glow characteristic of his paintings. If one looks closely at Rembrandt’s work, one can see the innovation and thought that went into every piece. He often experimented with different colors for different layers, and different types of oil, even using brush handles to create hair. Studies have shown that not one single procedure he stuck with, as many different techniques were required to create a desired effect. From early on in his career, Rembrandt became known as the master of the light and shadow. His use of heavy contrast and techniques for painting lights and darks made him a successful artist. He devised a way to make the lights lighter, and the darks darker. Rembrandt is famous for