Rembrandt Biography for Kids
Hello! Do you know who I am? I am Rembrandt! Have you heard of me? I am so famous I only go by my first name. My name is really Rembrandt van Rijn, but just call me Rembrandt! This is the Rembrandt biography for kids! Let’s investigate my life and art!
I was born in Leiden, Holland (now known as the Netherlands) in 1606.
You may recall that a group of Separatist Puritans came to Leiden a year after I was born and lived there during the time I was growing up until they left in 1620 to form a new colony in the New World, Plymouth Colony.
Also, I was the ninth child of my parents, and my mother used to read the Bible to me all the time. In fact, the only book I read is the Bible. So one of my favorite subjects to paint is Bible scenes. Look at this scene of Belshazzar’s Feast. It is based on Daniel 5 when Belshazzar the king gives a feast using the gold goblets from God’s temple in Jerusalem and proceeds to praise false gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. He sees a hand write a message on the wall which, as you can see, causes him great fear! He calls Daniel to interpret it and alas, it is not good news. God has numbered his days, and Belshazzar dies that night.
Here is David playing the harp for King Saul.
Later, here is David presenting the head of Goliath, the giant, to King Saul.
Have you seen my painting The Return of the Prodigal Son? Some claim it is the greatest picture ever painted! I am a Dutch Master!
It is one of my last works though I made sketches and paintings of this subject over the years, like this one of myself as the Prodigal Son in The Prodigal Son in the Brothel. The model of the woman in the painting is my wife, Saskia.
Though I have deep religious faith, it is a theme near and dear to my heart as my own life was not always so pure – we are all sinners, you know, in need of a loving father who will take us back despite our sin, like in the story of the Prodigal Son.
But how did I become a painter, you ask? Well, as a boy, I went to Latin school – do you study Latin and the classics? Anyway, when I was 14, I attended the University of Leiden but I wanted to paint, so I got an apprenticeship with Jacob van Swanenburgh for three years and then with Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam for six months. I soon had my own studio in Leiden and later in Amsterdam and took on my own students. This is where I met Saskia, my wife, and where I began my work as a portrait painter. I love to paint portraits and make use of expressions! Here is Saskia….
and this is our one surviving son, Titus.
Here are a few more of my portraits of patrons!
I also like to paint many self-portraits. I do make a good model, don’t you think? Here are a few of my self-portraits over the years.
You can see from my portraits that “life etches itself onto our faces as we grow older, showing our violence, excesses or kindnesses.”
I inspired many painters after me, and some even using my self-portraits as inspiration for their own self-portraits. See American artist Norman Rockwell’s Triple Self-Portrait where he has pinned up one of my self-portraits, along with those of Albrecht Durer, Vincent van Gogh, and Picasso.
Vincent Van Gogh, also a Dutch painter from the late 1800s, said of me,
“Rembrandt goes so deep into the mysterious that he says things for which there are no words in any language. It is with justice that they call Rembrandt—magician—that’s no easy occupation.” Magician? Well, more like Dutch Master!
Though known for my portraits and Bible scenes, I also did a few landscapes.
I am also known for my use of light in my paintings: I like to paint with light on the subject and darker colors around. You can see this in my famous painting The Night Watch.
My later life is not much you want to know about. I lived beyond my means, my wife Saskia died, and I had relationships with other women. I died in 1669 a poor man. But don’t think on these things. Think about what is worth remembering: I am Rembrandt from Holland in the 1600s, a Dutch Master, known for Bible scenes, portraits, expressions, and use of light!
Check out the video too!
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