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Why Rembrandt Is Considered One of Art History’s Most Important Old Masters

Rembrandt Paintings Dutch Golden Age Old Masters

‘Self-Portrait with Two Circles’ (c. 1665-1669) (Photo: Terry Long via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain {PD-1923})
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Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is regarded as one the most important and influential figures in the history of art. Celebrated for his successes spanning multiple mediums and types of subject matter, he has been called a “colossus of art” by prolific sculptor Auguste Rodin and a “magician” by Post-Impressionist pioneer Vincent van Gogh. In addition to these titles, he is also known as an “Old Master“—a label reserved for Europe’s most prolific pre-19th-century painters.

Rembrandt’s artwork has captivated audiences across the globe for centuries. Ranging from monumental paintings to miniature prints, his body of work remains one of the most impressive oeuvres of all time.

Context

Rembrandt (1606-1669) was at the forefront of the Dutch Golden Age, a prosperous period that spanned the 17th century. In the arts, this period is characterized by an interest in everyday subjects and advancements in painting influenced by the Northern Renaissance. As a painter, printmaker, draughtsman, and even art dealer during this time, Rembrandt looked to Renaissance artists—including both Northern and Italian masters—for inspiration.

Rembrandt Paintings Dutch Golden Age Old Masters

‘The Artist in his Studio’ (ca. 1626-1628) (Photo: http://eev.liu.edu/ via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

He saw great success throughout most of his career, producing some of the world’s most well-known paintings, an iconic collection of self-portraits, and admired etchings. However, toward the end of his life, he had a crisis that was likely caused by frivolous spending and lackluster sales as a dealer. Though he died a poor man, he has since seen great posthumous success and is recognized for contributions to European art.

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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.

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