Publisher Description

In Amsterdam, Rembrandt became a prominent portraitist, attracting attention with dramatic compositions like The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp (1632; The Hague, Mauritshuis). In securing commissions, the artist was assisted by the Mennonite art dealer Hendrick Uylenburgh, whose cousin Saskia married Rembrandt in 1634. The Mennonites advocated personal interpretation of scripture, which probably influenced Rembrandt's subjective and often moving treatment of biblical subjects. The artist became highly successful in the 1630s, when he had several pupils and assistants, started his own art collection, and lived the life of a cultivated gentleman, especially in the impressive residence he purchased in 1639 (now the "Rembrandt House" museum). Rembrandt exudes confidence and urbanity in his Self-Portrait of 1640 (London, National Gallery), which was modeled upon courtly portraits by Raphael and Titian. These artists probably also inspired his Amsterdam signature, "Rembrandt" (dropping "van Rijn").

In the 1640s, Rembrandt's frequently theatrical style of the previous decade gave way to a more contemplative manner, a mature example of which is Aristotle with a Bust of Homer (1653; 61. 198). The change reflects period taste but also personal circumstances, such as Saskia's death in 1642, financial problems, and the artist's controversial relationship with his son's nurse, Geertje Dircks, and then with his maidservant (and close companion) Hendrickje Stoffels. The great group portrait known as The Night Watch, dated 1642 (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum), could be said to mark the end of Rembrandt's most successful years, but the legend that customer dissatisfaction ruined his reputation is refuted by later commissions from such prominent patrons as Jan Six and the Amsterdam city government.

Young Adult
June 2
Public Domain
Public Domain

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