20 Interesting Facts About Rembrandt

Rembrandt is one of the most famous painters who has ever lived. Rembrandt’s life is filled with many interesting facts.

Like many artists who have lived, their lives and art make a fascinating history. Rembrandt was not only an exceptional artist but also had quite a fascinating history filled with interesting facts.

Here are 20 of our most interesting facts about the Dutch painter Rembrandt

Rembrandt Is Know By One Name


Rembrandt’s full name is Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. But like many other artists, he is known by only his first name – Rembrandt. The actual “d” on his name is silent, so he changed to sign his name in 1633 from Rembrant to Rembrandt. He never used the full version of his name for his artworks.

Rembrandt Lived In 17th Century Holland.

Rembrandt was born in 1606. His father was a miller and comfortably off, but his family was by no account wealthy. His parents were able to send Rembrandt to the town’s Latin school, where he was able to learn Latin.

Rembrandt’s Favorite Subject Was Himself

Self Portrait at the Age of 63 (1669) By Rembrandt

Undoubtedly, one of Rembrandt’s most famous subjects was himself. Many artists produced portraits of themselves, but Rembrandt was more prolific than most other artists.

There are more than 90 known self-portraits of Rembrandt. His love for painting his self-portraits did not end there because he also painted himself in many of his paintings. You can find a picture of him as a spectator in the crowd at various works of art, including The Stoning at Saint Stephen and The Rising of the Cross.

He Started At The University Of Leiden At Age 14

Rembrandt began studying at the famous University of Leiden in Holland at 14. This would have been highly unusual for the miller’s son at this time to go to University. We know that academic life did not suit him, so after a few months, he left his university studies to begin an apprenticeship as a painter.

Rembrandt Stayed In Holland To Study Art

When Rembrandt decided to become a painter, the advice during that time was that he should go to Italy. He did not follow the advice given to young painters during that time; he felt he could learn everything about art in his native Netherlands.

Rembrandt Made Himself A Name As A Painter Of History

Because of the protestant reformation, the local church no longer provided artists with commissions as the Catholic Church did in other countries such as Italy. Consequently, artists had to find a way to get commissions from private individuals. Rembrandt quickly began to make a name for himself as a painter of historical subjects.

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Rembrandt Married An Art Dealer’s Younger Cousin

In about 1631, Rembrandt decided to move from Leiden to Amsterdam. At that time, Amsterdam was the most prosperous port in Northern Europe and was crowded with merchants from every nation.

Amsterdam also offered young and successful artists the opportunity to sell their works of art. He moved into the home of an art dealer called Hendrick van Uylenburgh, and while there, he met his landlord’s younger cousin Sasha. They were married in 1634.

Rembrandt Was Happily Married To Saskia

By all accounts, it seems that Rembrandt was happily married to Saskia; he produced many paintings and drawings of Saskia.

Saskia by Rembrandt

The couple gave birth to their first son Rumbartus who died after two weeks. Over the next four years, more children were born but died shortly after birth. In 1641, their fourth child Titus was born and survived.

Saskia Died And Left A Will For The Use Of Her Fortune

Rembrandt’s Titus, The Artist’s Son

In 1642, shortly after Titus was born, Saskia died. She made a will that left Rembrandt and Titus her fortune but stipulated that Rembrandt’s share would be lost if he married again.

Rembrandt’s Domestic Life Became Complicated

Hendrickje Stoffels

After Saskia died, Rembrandt was left alone with a tiny baby to take care of. He took on a widow named Geertge Dircx; she became his common-law wife for a short time.

Rembrandt then took on another servant Hendrickje Stoffels, and he fell in love with her. Geertge took Rembrandt to court because he had promised to marry her and had broken that promise with Herdrickje.

Rembrandt accused Geertge of stealing some of the Saskia jewelry that she left to Titus and had Geertge sent to the house of corrections. Because of the strict terms of Saskia’s will, Rembrandt could not afford to marry, Hendrickje, but they lived together, and she appeared in many of his paintings.

Rembrandt Became One Of The Most Famous Artists In Amsterdam

Rambadt quickly became one of Amsterdam’s most famous and essential artists. Professionally his life continued to go from strength to strength. He began to produce a variety of portraits and had many art commissions.

Rembrandt Was Known To Squander Money

Even though Rembrandt was considered highly successful with his art, he was known to spend and squander quite a bit of money. He was a compulsive buyer of arts and collected all manners of antiquities, props, and weapons used in his paintings.

Rembrandt had cash flow problems; Saskia had her own money, and her family accused him of squandering her fortune.

Rembrandt Was Declared Bankrupt

In the 1650s, Amsterdam was hit by a massive economic depression; this financial situation hit Rembrandt very hard. Rembrandt had not even completed half the payments on his house, so his creditors started to chase him for money.

In July 1656, Rembrandly successfully applied for “cessio bonorum,” a form of bankruptcy that allowed him to avoid prison time. All his goods, including an impressive collection of paintings, were sold off for a pittance. Rembrandt, Titus, and Hendrickje were forced to move across town to a poor district; Rembrandt continued to paint.

Rembrandt’s Son Titus Was Left To Look After Him

In 1663, Hendrickje died after a long and challenging illness. Titus was left to look after his father. Rembrandt had severe money problems and was forced to sell Saskia’s tomb. But even with the money problems, he continued to squander money on artifacts and art.

In 1668, Titus married the daughter of a family friend; then he died seven months later; six months after his death, a daughter named Titia was born. In 1669, Rembrandt died and was buried next to Hendrickje and Titus; there was no official notice of his death.

Rembrandt Painted Many Self-Portraits In The Last 20 Years of Life

The last 20 years of Rembrandt’s life were quite tricky. His first wife died, he became bankrupt, was forced to give up everything, and moved to a much poor section of town. But one thing he never did was stop painting.

During the last twenty years of his life, he used himself as a model; with more frequency than before, he painted many self-portraits.

Rembrandt Could Have Suffered From Stereo Blindness

Many modern doctors believe that Rembrandt could have suffered from stereo blindness, which would ensure he was unable to see in 3-D. Stereo blindness occurs when one person only has one functioning eye or when the two eyes do not function together correctly.

Scientists reached their conclusion from an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine on September 16, 2004; medical personnel who studied Rembrandt’s self-portraits concluded that the artist had the condition of Stereo Blindness.

Rembrandt’s Secretly Embedded Codes In His Works

Rembrandt was known to use secret codes in his artwork. He was very fond of embedding secret codes and messages into his work. Some of his paintings contain ciphers and visual riddles. For example, The Alchemist painting has a secret code that reads God in Hebrew.

Caravaggio Influenced Rembrandt’s Paintings

Rembrandt’s paintings were influenced by the Italian artist Caravaggio’s use of light and dark. He started experimenting with the dramatic use of light and dark developed by Caravaggio.

From 1630 onward, we can see the influence of Caravaggio’s art on Rembrandt’s art. Rembrandt developed a new way of painting faces with patterns of light and shadows; this new way of painting ensured the paintings came to life.

Rembrandt Taught Other Students

As Rembrandt was a master, he had many students in his studio who studied under him. We do not know of other students who rose to this height of celebrity or technique as Rembrandt had developed. The fact he had so many students shows how genuinely talented Rembrandt was.

Some Rembrandt Paintings May Be Works Of Others

Many other paintings contributed to Rembrandt may be the works of others. For part of his life, Rembrandt ran a large studio with many students, so it was the current practice back then to work on a painting already started by their teacher, and together with Rembrandt, the student may have finished it.

It is hard to know whether some of the paintings are all of Rembrandt’s work or one of his students. We do not know of any of Rembrandt’s students complaining about him passing their work off as his own.

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