Generally considered as one of the biggest painters of the European baroque, and the most important of the Dutch painters of the XVII th century, Rembrandt lived during a period that the historians call the century of Dutch golden age during which culture, science, trade and political influence of the powerful Holland were at their peak.
He produced approximately 600 paintings, 300 etchings and 2000 drawings. His themes of preference are the portrait (and self-portraits) as well as biblical and historic scenes. Rembrandt also represents scenes of everyday life, and popular scenes. His taste for self-portraits permits us to follow his physical as well as emotional evolution. In these self-portraits, Rembrandt represents himself without concession, with his all defects and his wrinkles.
One of the major characteristics of his work is the use of the light and the darkness (half tone technique) which catches the eye by a game of rested contrasts.
His close family ─ Saskia, his first wife, his son Titus and his second wife Hendrickje Stoffels ─ appear regularly in his paintings. He painted few landscapes (this is less true for his engraved work) and mythological themes.
Rembrandt does not live in a palace, but in the mediocre installation, of a small trader and secondhand bookseller, prints amateur. But, he lives beyond his means, ceaselessly buying works of art from all over the world, garments with which he dresses his models. Soon he can't honor his debts. In 1656, he is forced to sell his house and he must find a more modest lodging .
His second wife and his son must earn a living from a small art shop installed in the house, because if the fame of Rembrandt keeps growing, the orders decrease in number.
Rembrandt dies pennyless, in Amsterdam, on October 4th, 1669.