Rembrandt (Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries)
Article abstract: Generally considered to be the greatest portrait painter of all time, Rembrandt is also renowned for his etchings and drawings. His works reflect his masterful ability to create realistic images which invite the viewer into his world, composed primarily of lower-class subjects living simple lives.
Rembrandt van Rijn was born on July 15, 1606, in Leiden, the son of Harmen van Rijn, a miller, and Neeltgen Willemsdochter van Zuidbroeck, the daughter of a baker. After seven years in Latin school and a very brief period at the University of Leiden, he studied for three years with Jacob van Swanenburch, a pedestrian painter, and for about six months with Pieter Lastman, who influenced his treatment of mythological and religious subjects, particularly with respect to the use of vivid expressions, of lighting, and of the high gloss that appears on many of his earliest works.
Rembrandt’s earliest known dated painting, the Stoning of Saint Stephen (1625), is a work that brims with action. The saint’s face is tilted up toward a central figure, who stands with a large stone raised over his head in both hands, his arms forming a triangle that defines the space around the kneeling saint. Within this space are several men with stones in hand, whose arms and twisted bodies form powerful diagonals in contrast to the saint’s own outstretched, diagonally positioned arms. The vividly...
(The entire section is 2012 words.)
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