One of the most renowned Dutch artists is Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, who was born in Leiden prior to moving to Amsterdam to painting some of the famous paintings in the Netherlands. This article will walk
Rembrandt was born in 1606 in Leiden, a picturesque city about thirty minutes (today) by train from Amsterdam. His parents had some money as well as good jobs in trades (milling).
Researchers believe this his family lived on Weddesteeg around the time of his birth. Although the street still exists today, the street looks very different than in Rembrandt’s time. It’s still worth a stroll as it’s just footsteps from one of Leiden’s most beautiful spots, Molen de Put.
Like many boys at the time, Rembrandt learned Latin, which was essential for studying at the Dutch universities at the time. He studied at the University of Leiden, which has a picturesque campus along the Rapenburg canal in Leiden. Painting
Shortly after, opened his own studio in Leiden. His former studio sits at Langebrug 89 in Leiden. You can visit his studio, which is generally free to the public in the afternoons between Wednesday and Sunday. He was not very well-known at this time,
In 1631, Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam to work as a portrait artist. He quickly gained a reputation for capturing the true likeness of a person. He ended up marrying the daughter of a well-known art dealer, Saskia van Uylgenburg.
After getting married, the couple lived on Nieuwe Dolenstraat prior to moving to Breestraat. (This is where the Rembrandt House Museum sits today.) The house was a considerable purchase at the time, which would amount to around 200,000 euros today. Unfortunately, only one of his children survived childhood and his wife passed away soon after childbirth.
The Rembrandt Huis is a great place to get some insight into his painting process. The house itself does not have the original furnishings,
Rembrandt ended up having an affair with one of his caretakers, who he eventually committed to a mental asylum in Gouda, after choosing to end their relationship. Rembrandt’s personal life continued to cause scandal after he had a child with his former maid.
It’s said that Rembrandt produced more than 600 paintings in his lifetime although the style varied very much. He is most known for his portraits, but he also produces a number of religious works, landscapes, and still lifes. He had a number of famous students who became famous Dutch artists.
Rembrandt’s most famous work, the Night Watch, hangs in the Rijksmuseum, however, this wasn’t always the case. It was commissioned for the Kloveniersdoelen, who inhabited the tower at Nieuwe Doelenstraat 26. This was where the city militia protected Amsterdam from invasions, which was especially key due to the Eighty Year War.
True Rembrandt fans can stay in the hotel that sits in the location of where the Night Watch was painted, which has been converted into the Hotel NH Collection Amsterdam Doelen. (This hotel has spectacular views over Amsterdam!) You can also visit the nearby Cafe de Jaren, which is one of my favorite spots for a relaxing drink along the canals.
During the time of Napoleon, the painting was moved to the Royal Palace in Dam Square. It was intended as the city hall of Amsterdam although Napoleon chose to rule from it during his occupation of the Netherlands. Today, it’s still owned by the Dutch Royal Family. It’s been moved around a few times since it was interestingly hidden in the caves outside of Maastricht during World War II (along with other priceless Dutch works of art).
Rembrandt died in 1663 and he was buried in Amsterdam. He died as a commoner and was buried in an unknown grave in the Westerkerk. At the time, it was customary to be buried underneath the floor of the church. His remains would have been removed at some point, but you can visit the Westerkerk, which still has Protestant services today. You can climb the tower for a small fee (look up the Westerntoren) as well as attend free organ concerts within the church.
The best museums to see Rembrandt’s art
You’ll find a number of world-renowned museums with a large collection of Rembrandt’s work. For the purposes of simplicity, I’ve limited this list to museums that generally have at least five Rembrandt museums on display as part of their permanent collection.
The Lakenhal Museum in Leiden is an exception to this rule. It will be reopened as of June 2019 with some newly discovered Rembrandts with an exhibition (as of November 2019) featuring works by Rembrandt in his youth from various collections from abroad.
I’d argue that the Rijksmuseum and the Mauritshuis are the best places within the Netherlands to see his later works on display as these two museums have an extensive collection within the Netherlands. You will also find numerous etchings within the library at Leiden University if you get permission.
In the United Kingdom, you can visit the National Gallery within London for free to view quite a few works by Rembrandt. Within Germany, you’ll find works of Rembrandt at