Happy Holidays from the PopUp Painting team! As the world begins to return to normal, we’ll end 2014 and begin 2015 by featuring Rembrandt as our Artist Of The Week. In this collection, we’ll be showing you work from across Rembrandt’s life, including in his darker Late Works which you can still see at The National Gallery until the 18th January 2015.
Born in 1606, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, was a Dutch painter in what is called the ‘Dutch Golden Age‘, which saw the newly independent Dutch Republic asserting itself with new discoveries and new cultural energy. Perhaps this Golden Age explains in part why Rembrandt chose not to travel to Italy to master his art, as he thought he could learn everything he needed to from within his home country.
He moved to the thriving Amsterdam in 1631 and in 1634 married Saskia, the cousin of his landlord. Over the next few years, Rembrandt and Saskia had several children, none of whom lived beyond their infancy.
In contrast to the sadness of his family life, Rembrandt’s artistic prowess grew from strength to strength, often attracting attention from Amsterdam’s prestigious families who commissioned him. He was the most famous artist in Amsterdam, and perhaps reflecting his success, it is suggested that he was a prolific spender as well.
In 1641, Saskia gave birth to a son – Titus – who was healthy and went on to become an art dealer following Rembrandt’s bankruptcy. A year after Titus’ birth, Saskia fell ill – possibly with TB – and died shortly after, aged only 30 or so. To cope with raising Titus by himself, Rembrandt took on a nanny called Geertge Dircx, and later a servant named Hendrickje Stoffels. Geertge became his common law wife, while Rembrandt fell in love with Hendrickje. This resulted in all kinds of complications – such as Geertge taking Rembrand to court, alleging that he had promised to marry her; while Rembrandt charged Geertge with pawning Sask.’s jewellery. This chapter concluded with Geertge sent to a “house of correction”, and Rembrandt and Hendrickje living happily together.
Following Amsterdam’s recession of the 1650s, Rembrandt increasingly found himself in financial trouble. Chased by creditors and debt collectors, in 1656 Rembrandt filed for a ‘cession bonorom’, which avoided imprisonment but did involve the collection of all his goods – including his art.
In 1669 Rembrandt died, 6 years after his beloved Hendrickje died of a protracted illness. Rembrandt’s Late Works – which the National Gallery are displaying until 18th January – reflect this difficult end to his life.
- The National Gallery, Rembrandt: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/artists/rembrandt
- Holland.com, The Dutch Golden Age: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/artists/rembrandt
- RembrandtPainting.net: http://www.rembrandtpainting.net