15 July 1606
Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn was born in Leiden. His father, Harmen Gerritsz. van Rijn, was from a family of Leiden millers who took their surname from their home on the banks of the Rhine. Rembrandt’s mother, Neeltgen Willemsdochter van Zuytbroeck, was the daughter of a prosperous baker in Leiden. The artist was the ninth of ten children and the only one to receive a formal education.

Ca. 1613-15
Rembrandt studied at the Latin school in Leiden.

20 May 1620
Rembrandt enrolled in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Leiden. He abandoned his studies one year later to devote himself to painting.

He worked as an apprentice for three years in the studio of the painter Jacob Isaacsz. van Swanenburg in Leiden.

Ca. 1624-25
Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam where he worked for six months in the studio of Pieter Lastman, a history painter trained in the Raphaelesque tradition, whose influence is evident in Rembrandt’s early work.

He signed his first painting, The Stoning of Saint Stephen (cat. 1).

Rembrandt returned to Leiden and set up as an independent painter. He shared a studio with Jan Lievens, another pupil of Lastman.

14 February 1628
Rembrandt accepted his first pupil, Gerard Dou, aged fourteen. Dou remained in the studio until 1630.

Ca. 1629
Constantin Huygens, the poet and collector as well as secretary and artistic adviser to Prince Frederick Henry of Orange, visited Rembrandt and Lievens in their studio, indicating the level of fame that they had achieved in Leiden. From then on Huygens was a fervent admirer of Rembrandt and secured numerous commissions for the artist from the court at The Hague. In late 1631 Rembrandt and Lievens decided to work separately. Lievens left for England.

Ca. 1632
Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam, living in the house of the influential dealer and collector Hendrick van Uylenburgh. Through the latter he was commissioned to paint the portrait of the merchant Nicolaes Ruts (New York, Frick Collection). This would be his first portrait, to be followed by numerous others.

After some years of low output, Rembrandt began to accept new commissions.He dismissed his housekeeper Geertje Dircks, who sued him for breach of matrimonial promise. Rembrandt was found guilty and obliged to pay her 200 guineas a year.

For the Sicilian aristocrat Antonio Ruffo, Rembrandt painted Aristotle contemplating the Bust of Homer (1653), Homer (1660), and Alexander the Great (1660, now lost).

Cornelia, the illegitimate daughter of Rembrandt and Hendrickje Stoffels, is baptised in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam.

Due to growing financial problems arising from debts from the purchase of his house and from buying art, the Supreme Court of Holland obliged Rembrandt to draw up and present an inventory of his goods. All his possessions, including his important collection of paintings, prints and drawings, were sold at public auction. The amount raised was not sufficient to pay his debts.

The family moved to a more modest house on the Rozengracht. Rembrandt’s fine house was auctioned but the purchaser did not pay for it. It was auctioned again the following year with the same result. It was finally sold in 1660. The painter declared himself bankrupt and became an employee of Hendrickje and Titus, who would be responsible for selling his work.

Rembrandt was commissioned to paint The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis for the new Town Hall of Amsterdam. The painting was rejected and returned to him. Despite this, he continued to receive commissions, including the group portrait of The Syndics of the Clothmakers’ Guild (1662). In 1662 he was obliged to sell his late wife Saskia van Uylenburgh’s tomb.

Hendrickje Stoffels died in July. She was buried in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam.

Rembrandt was visited at home by Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Rembrandt’s son Titus died in October, having married Magdalena van Loo that February. Like Hendrickje, he was buried in the Westerkerk.

4 October 1669
Rembrandt died aged 63. Like Hendrickje and Titus, he was buried in the Westerkerk, in a rented tomb.

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