The art of Rembrandt, his drawings and paintings
In 1626 Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) was an immature-looking, but serious and well-educated young man who was born and raised in Leiden, The Netherlands. Still in his early twenties, Rembrandt's reputation was growing fast and drawing the attention of Amsterdam art-workshop owner Hendrick van Uylenburgh. He enabled Rembrandt to move to and work in Amsterdam, from 1631 on, because according to the rules of Amsterdam's St. Lucas art-guild an artist had to have lived in Amsterdam for two years in order to have the right to open his own workshop. So in his first two years in Amsterdam Rembrandt would work for Van Uylenburgh's workshop and brought with him his own pupil Isaäc Jouderville from Leiden. In 1634 Rembrandt would marry Van Uylenburgh's greatniece Saskia.

While still in Leiden, Rembrandt would make paintings in the style of Tobit and Anna (1626), on the right, which, while technically accomplished, shows some artistic immaturity. Instead making a strong, dramatic statement, this painting emphasizes the pathetic quality of the rag-tagged couple. Between 1626 and 1628 Rembrandt's style changes. From there on Rembrandt becomes a "painter of the night", with nearly all of his indoor paintings showing scenes with dark backgrounds and candles that illuminate the subject matter with golden light. Christ at Emmaus is one of Rembrandt first paintings in this style, which appears to lend itself for Rembrandt's symbolist qualities. Rembrandt's 1628 painting Two scholars disputing shows the artistic concept that he would use throughout his career: a dark underpainting with the essentials highlighted. While in his pre-1628 paintings (such as Tobit and Anna) unnecessary details would distract from the painting's biblical essence, Rembrandt's new style enabled him to give his history pieces a clear message with a biblical atmosphere.

If anything can characterize Rembrandt's style it's his quest for truth and reality. Rembrandt would always show an artistic interest in imperfection and decay, from beggars in rags to chubby women. Thus he achieved an aesthetic balance between beauty and ugliness that make his paintings seem so real and convincing.
In his 1647 painting Young woman in bed, Rembrandt neither idealizes the woman's beauty, nor does he confront the observer with ruthless realism.

Throughout his career, Rembrandt would be commissioned to make portraits of people that could afford it (mostly Amsterdam merchants), as well as paintings called "history pieces", such as Belshazzar's Feast (1635).
The artistic success of Rembrandt seemed to depend on his judgment when to be precise and detailed in his painterly approach and when to be rough and sketchy. He reached the height of his powers between 1661 and 1667 with some of the most memorable art works in human history, like his Lucretia's and the Jewish Bride.

Thanks to his massive talent for composition, Rembrandt never seemed to have any problem with how to arrange group portraits, not even in his teenage days as a painter. His ultimate group portrait (and perhaps THE ultimate group portrait) is the Night Watch.
A group portrait is a problem of perspective (perspective enters when not all the people are at equal distance from the observer, the challenge is to get the proportions exactly right) and also of behavior: the artist must paint his subjects such that everyone seems to be doing something natural and logical. The Night watch is famous for it's orderly chaos: the people aren't lined up statically, but everyone seems to do as he likes, while each individual fits into the group portrait naturally.

The image above is a detail from Amedeo Modigliani's painting "Nudo", to emphasize that although this section of is dedicated to Rembrandt, it has as it's subject matter art in general, not just Rembrandt and not just the art of painting, but all forms of art, including music and other non-visual forms of art.

Marten Jansen contemporary artist
Guest Artists
Hanne Clausen's urban landscapes.
Andrew Mackay is a freelance wildlife artist and illustrator.

s a freelance wildlife artist and illustrator.