Tobit and Anna with the Kid
This is Rembrandt’s first work based on the apocryphal Book of Tobit, one of his lifelong favorite readings. The formal source of the picture is an engraving by Jan van der Velde inspired by a 1619 drawing by Willem Buytewech. The scene is set in a humble room filled with everyday objects – a bird cage, a plait of garlic and wicker baskets where the old Tobit fallen into poverty sits near the window. Standing next to him is his wife Anna holding the kid in her arms. On the floor is Tobit’s cane, a little dog near the fire and a candelabrum. What is outstanding in this painting with respect to the model is the wealth of psychological nuances and the meticulous attention to the details of the domestic scene. To highlight important elements such as the old man’s shabby cloak, his pose and Anna, Rembrandt used two light sources, the window on the left and the fire in the lower right.
The Concert (Musical allegory)
This enigmatic painting marks the early evolution of Rembrandt’s work. Notwithstanding the allusion to some allegorical or moralizing theme, the picture is actually a genre painting. The artist seems to have been influenced by the “Utrecht School” in his choice of figures wearing unusual clothes who are playing instruments, or in the still life of books and musical instruments. The music, lavish and exotic clothes, the toilet objects and even the precious bowl on the table seem to be elements that substantiate the interpretation of the painting as a vanitas. He manipulates color with great care and enriches the pictorial structure with the aim of convincingly rendering the diversity of the materials.
The Rich Old Man From the Parable
Much has been said about the exact meaning of this painting by the young Rembrandt, although the artistic source, The Old Woman Looking at a Coin (1624) by Gerrit van Honthorst, had been known for some time. The painting has been interpreted as a genre scene or as an allegory of avarice. Most probably it is a portrayal of Jesus’ parable warning against avarice. The subject appeared for the first time in an image of the Dance of Death by Hans Holbein the Younger published in 1538. The light of a candle illuminates the room in which an old man, surrounded by big volumes and parchments intently studies a coin. To the left, on a stove there is a clock with an obvious symbolic meaning. Each detail is carefully studied, the colors are pasty and the palette subdued.
The Artist in His Studio
This small painting is a rather unusual. The artist portrayed himself in his studio, a large, almost bare room with a few palettes hanging on the walls, a grinder for preparing colors, and a table with vases and bottles. We immediately see the entire room, but the easel is positioned so that we cannot see what is being painted. Here Rembrandt reveals extraordinary attention to perspective and the rendering of space, another distinctive element with respect to the artist’s other works from this period. The relatively small size of the figure and the face in the shadows would suggest that he did not want to do a conventional self-portrait. He is intent on studying his work rather than on actually painting and this may allude to the fact that art is a work of the mind and not just the hands. Rembrandt emphasizes his idea with light that seems to emanate from the painting we cannot see and with the pose.
Self-Portrait with Gorget
Rembrandt did about eighty self-portraits and considered them a form of autobiography. In this painting he used a piece of armor for the first time, a gorget worn backwards. This image, as opposed to the earlier self-portraits that aim a showing a specific state of mind, has an official nature as suggested by the confident, bold expression. The artist gave the surface an extremely finished look, and painted his hair in an unusual manner in this phase of his artistic career, with a soft and wavy effect. A typical aspect of this and many other paintings by Rembrandt is the heavy shading on the right side of the face that project the figure from the background.
Bust of An Old Man in a Fur Cap
The model who posed for this painting appears in several earlier works from the Leiden period. But this is the first painting in which Rembrandt focused attention on the subject’s head and face creating a portrait that matched those of old women. For a long time it was believed that the unknown model was the artist’s father, but this hypothesis cannot be sustained. The same man appears in two 1630 engravings by Rembrandt and in two undated engravings by Jan Lievens. The unusual, tall hat resembles the one in Judas Returning the 30 Pieces of Silver (1629) which leads to the assumption that the artist wanted to portray a specifically Jewish feature. In stylistic terms the old man with the hat resembles the Jeremiah with its luminous and smooth colors.
Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem
This is one of the most important paintings Rembrandt did during his Leiden period. Even though there have been doubts as to the subject – Lot before the burning Sodom, or Anchises sadly watching the burning of Troy - the picture seems to refer to Jeremiah’s prophecy that Jerusalem would be destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar. There were many early modes of portraying the grieving and lonely Jeremiah. The precious wares are a reference to the capture of Jerusalem as described by Josephus in The Antiquities of the Jews [Antiquitates Judaicae] that Rembrandt owned in a 1584 German translation that tells how Nebuchadrezzar freed Jeremiah from prison and lavished him with expensive gifts. No preparatory drawings of the prophet have survived, even through the artist had used the same old man as a model for other paintings during this period.
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp
In 1632 the surgeon’s guild commissioned Rembrandt to do a painting to commemorate the public anatomy lesson by the first anatomist, Dr. Tulp (1593-1674). The lesson was held on the physiology of the arm of the body of a man who had been executed. The oldest direct documentation about this painting is in the 1693 guide to Amsterdam that tells us the painting and a later portrait of a group of the guild members by Rembrandt were on public display in the anatomy room of the guild of surgeons of Amsterdam. It remained there until 1828 when it was purchased by Wilhem I, King of Holland. The painting, that is distant indeed from the static lines that had distinguished group portraits up to then, shows seven people intently listening to Dr. Tulp’s explanations as he does his demonstration on the tendons that flex the fingers, and he bends his own finger in a gesture illustrating the same effect.
The Raising of the Cross
Between 1632 and 1646 Rembrandt painted the Passion series for Prince Frederick Hendrick d’Orange. The subject of the raising of the cross was not common in the sixteenth century until the Council of Trent made a definitive pronouncement as to the dynamics of the Crucifixion in 1563. The new iconography was not very successful in protestant northern Holland. The motif is very similar to Rubens’ large altarpiece in Antwerp and until recently critics believed that it was also the model for Rembrandt's painting. The common elements can be explained by the same iconographic source, a small woodcut of the same subject from the Altdorfer Passion cycle of 1513 from which Rembrandt also did drawings and engravings.
Portrait of Maerten Soolmans
During the course of 1634 Rembrandt painted several portraits, including Maerten Soolmans and his wife Oopjen Coppit, both of which are full-length and life-sized. Portraits of this type were relatively rare in seventeenth century Holland and because of their cost (five hundred florins for a full-length portrait) they were a symbol of great wealth and social status. Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit were married in Amsterdam in 1633 so the paintings can be considered wedding portraits. The gentleman, dressed in black according to the Spanish style holds a glove in his extended hand, a gesture that confirms his married status. His wife, who is also dressed in black, wears the smooth gold band on her neck. Maerten Soolmans probably met Rembrandt in Leiden where he attended university. So it is quite likely that when he returned to Amsterdam he began frequenting the artist from whom he also ordered a Holy Family.
Portrait of Saskia as Flora
Rembrandt painted this picture of Flora in 1634. Recently, scholars have tended to identify the model with Saskia, the painter’s young wife basing their statements on the silver point drawing in Berlin which is the only documented portrait of her. X-ray examinations have shown that originally it was a portrayal of the Old Testament heroine Judith with her old servant and the head of Holofernes. Unfortunately, we do not know why the artist covered the old woman and the head of Holofernes with another layer of paint, eliminated the sword and changed Judith’s pose transforming the painting into a Flora. It may be that the passion for flowers on the part of the Dutch bourgeoisie of the period rendered the portrayal of the mythological patron of flowers more attractive.Iconography
This large canvas was commissioned when the guild of the arquebusiers decided to decorate their main headquarters. Each company had to be represented in a group portrait. The commissions went to six painters, including Rembrandt, who was to paint the company of captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Wilhem van Ruytenburgh. The painting was severely mutilated in 1715 so that it could be hung in a room of what is now the royal palace. The title Nightwatch seems to be have given to the painting in the late eighteenth century when the duties of some of these companies had been reduced to precisely night watches. Rembrandt broke with the tradition of relatively static compositions focusing on a row of aligned faces and structured it as a vast and dramatic historical scene filled with movement and noise, with gun shots and rolling drums, a boy running to bring powder and even a barking dog.
Rembrandt Harmenzzon van Rijn was born at Leiden on 15 July 1606; son of a well-to-do miller who gave him a comfortable childhood. In May 1620 Rembrandt registered at the faculty of letters of the University of Leiden, but soon left his studies to apprentice himself to Jacob Isaaczoon van Swaneburgh, a modest painter in the same city. Later, perhaps in 1624, he went to Amsterdam to Pieter Lastmann, one of the most famous painters of historical subjects of the era. Around 1627-1629 Rembrandt met another young artist, Jan Lievens, with whom he set up a studio in Leiden. In 1629 he painted The Tribute Money, that was highly praised by Constantijn Huygens, secretary to Prince Frederick Hendrick of Orange who commissioned the Passion series. Rembrandt’s relationship with the art merchant Hendrick van Uylenburgh was fundament to his life: he married the dealer’s cousin, Saskija and moved to Amsterdam. During 1632 he also worked in The Hague where he painted many portraits. Soon he was the most highly sought-after painter in Amsterdam and he also painted historical scenes. His son Titus was born in 1641 and the following year his wife died of tuberculosis. Even though Rembrandt’s atelier took on a growing number of pupils, between 1630 and 1650 he had a serious financial crisis and even public and private commissions were lacking. The factors that influenced this lack of work perhaps included his lifestyle that Amsterdam society considered unconventional – especially his private affairs. He had a legal dispute with Geertje Dircx whom he was forced to pay a considerable sum in damages, and in 1654 his mistress and former housekeeper Hendricke Stoffels bore him an illegitimate daughter, Cornelia. Oppressed by debts he had made to purchase a house, he was forced to sell his collection of art objects. In 1658 Rembrandt and his family had to leave the house in Sin Anthonisbreestraat and move to the Rozengracht in the Jordan district. The last decade of his life was marked by poverty and tragedy: his companion, Hendricke died of plague in 1663, and then, the following year, his son Titus who had been married to Magdalen van Loo for just a few months also died. The artist continued to paint until the final days of his life: he died on 8 October 1669 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Westerkerk.The works