Who Did Rembrandt Study Under?

Who Did Rembrandt Study Under?

Rembrandt is one of the most famous Dutch artists to have ever lived. Most people have heard about him and his name.

Rembrandt is known to have studied under two leading art masters. The first was Jacob van Swanenburgh and the second was Pieter Lastman. There is a chance he also spent a few months studying under Jakob Pynas. We know that he painted together and was influenced by Jan Lievens.

Artist Masters That Rembrandt Studied Under

From about 1620 to 1624, Rembrandt studied as an artist, and he had two masters he trained with in succession.

What is unusual about Rembrandt is that, unlike many young artists during his day, he did not go to Italy to study under an Italian master to learn about art. Instead, he chose to do all of his artistic study in Holland.

We do not know the whole reason for this; it could have been a financial reason, that he did not have the money to go to Italy to study. Some felt that Rembrandt could learn all he needed in Holland without traveling and living in Italy. This makes Rembrandt very unique compared to many other artists during his time who traveled and studied under Italian masters in Italy.

Rembrandt’s First Art Master Was Jacob van Swanenburgh

Jacob van Swanenburgh Portrait

Rembrandt’s frist art master was Jacob van Swanenburgh (1571-1638). It was thought that Rembrandt studied under van Swanenburgh for at least three years. Van Swanenburgh must have taught him the basic skills and the knowledge necessary for his profession.

Van Swanenburgh was a specialist in architectural pieces and scenes of hell in the underworld. This type of painting called for skills and painting of fire and its reflection of the surrounding objects. During Rembrandt’s time, knowing how to paint the hell and fire paintings was considered a distinct and demanding skill.

The Harrowing of Hell by Jacob van Swanenburgh

Rembrandt’s early exposure to this type of hell in fire paintings and the reflection that was needed with the surrounding objects led to his abiding interest in the effects of light on his paintings.

Rembrandt’s Second Master Was Pieter Lastman

Pieter Lastman Portrait

Rembrandt’s second teacher or art master that he studied under was Pieter Lastman (1583-1633). Lastman lived in Amsterdam, and we believe that Rembrandt stayed with him and worked underneath him for six months.

Jonah and the Whale (1621) By Pieter Lastman

During this time, Lastman was well known as a history painter. He must have helped Rembrandt gain all the knowledge and skills necessary to master historical paintings.

Historical paintings involve placing various figures from biblical, historical, methodological, or allegorical scenes into what could be very complex scenes. These paintings were intricate and required a great deal of skill and knowledge.

In the 17th century, historical painting held one of the highest positions for painters because it required a complex command of all subject matters, from the landscape to the architecture to still life painting to drapery to animals to human figures to all types of different postures and positions expressions and costumes.

In other words, to be a historical painter, you had to master almost all types of art and painting and be able to put them together into one single painting eloquently.

Jakob Pynas As Rembrandt’s Teacher

One biographer Arnold Houbraken mentioned in his 18th-century book that Rembrandt also studied under Jakob Pynas (1592 – 1650). Arnold Houbraken (1660 – 1770) was a Dutch painter and writer who is mainly remembered as the biographer of the Dutch Golden Age painters, including a biography on Rembrandt.

This has not been able to be ultimately confirmed, but it is possible that Rembrandt did study some historical paintings under Jakob Pynas.

Paul and Barnabas at Lystra (1627-29) by Jacob Pynas

It is thought that Rembrandt studied with Jacob Pynas in his workshop for a few months after his six-month apprenticeship with Peter Lastman ended.

Influence Of Jan Lievens On Rembrandt’s Art

Jan Lieven Portrait

It has felt that the Dutch artist Jan Lieven also impacted Rembrandt and his style during his years of training. Lieven and Rembrandt were contemporaries, but as Lieven was considered a child prodigy, he was already well established by the time Rembrandt started his art study and training.

The Raising of Lazarus (1607-1674) By Jan Lievens

Historians only know that Lieven and Rembrandt worked closely together for some years after about 1625, but many believe their actual association started much sooner.

No traces of Rembrandt’s student exercises have survived, so we do not have firm documentation if he also studied under other masters.

Rembrandt did not study under any Italian artist, nor did he travel to Italy as many artists did during his time. All his artistic training was done in Leiden or Amsterdam.

This makes Rembrandt a truly Dutch artist who is considered to be one of the two great artists that have ever come from Holland. The first is Rembrandt, and the second is Vincent Van Gogh.

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