Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was born July 15, 1606 in Leiden, the Netherlands. His father worked at a mill, as did many Dutchmen, but wanted his son to work in an academic profession. However, Rembrandt left his studies at the University of Leiden in order to study painting.
His work had become well known by 1631 and so he left his successful Leiden studio for Amsterdam. After this he became Holland's premier painter. As a well-known painter, many of his commissions involved portraits. He was an upper class citizen, unlike many artists, and married Saskia van Uylenburgh, who would become one of the main subjects of his works. He known for his landscape paintings as well, and he was one of the more prominent etchers of the time. In fact, one source says that he ranks "among the foremost of all time" for his etchings. When he had no other subjects to paint, he created self-portraits, the number of which is estimated at between 50 and 60.
In his early days in Leiden many of his works showed the lines, light and shade, and color of everyday people. By 1634 his works were starting to show strong lighting effects. But in 1636, his works displayed quieter, more reflective scenes, with warmer colors. After his wife's death in 1642 and the deaths of three children in infancy, he painted his most famous work, The Night Watch. In it, a group of city guardsmen await the command to fall in line. Unlike most paintings, he shows each guardsmen the care and detail that he would put into a single portrait, but it seems that the figures of the men are not as interesting as the whole painting, which shows brilliant color, much movement, and bright light.
Rembrandt, as an upper class...