Continuing a series of articles on famous artists
By Smriti Daniel
They gather in the gloomy courtyard, each carrying some small weapon. In one corner a drummer bangs out a marching beat and the group of men slowly begin to fall into place. They don't look anything like the policemen we know today, but in those times such 'companies' of civilian men were often called upon to guard the city. The bright sunlight streams in, falling in sharp, direct rays upon their clothes and one little girl (perhaps the daughter of one of the men) in particular looks almost golden as she runs through the group. The painting is 'The Night Watch' and the painter is considered a giant among European artists; the Funday Times presents for your inspection Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn.

The Life and Times of Rembrandt:
Rembrandt (say: rem- brant) was a 17th century painter of Dutch origins. The son of a miller, Rembrandt never actually finished college, but instead spent his time studying art. He soon set up his own studio in Leidin where he collaborated closely with his friend Jan Lievens. In later years Rembrandt became known not only for his painting and sketching but for his etchings as well. Many students came to him with the request that he teach them.
The plague swept Holland twice during Rembrandt's lifetime, taking the lives of many hundreds of people with it; and even though he prospered professionally, Rembrandt had a tough time with his personal life. His first three children all died within months of being born and he became a widower when his 29 year old wife passed away. Financially as well, Rembrandt had some very low periods and was even declared bankrupt in 1656.

Three of Rembrandt's Creations:
Well you already know a little about the Night Watch, which is both very famous and very large. It takes up most of the wall on which it hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. People will stand in front of it for hours as they slowly pick up the details hidden in the shadowy parts of the painting. Rembrandt loved to play with light and shadow, and if you've been reading your Funday you'll remember that Da Vinci did too, the technique that they both employ is called chiaroscuro (say key-arrow-skew-row).

Setting a different mood is this self portrait of the artist when he was barely 25 years old. He looks quite comical doesn't he, with his hair flying all over the place and his mouth all scrunched up? He created this well known etching along with many other sketches and paintings in an attempt to understand how to depict emotions better.

The painting called 'A Musical Allegory' is one of Rembrandt's early works. He painted it when he was only 20 years old and signed it with the monogram RH - Rembrandt Harmensz. Two vertical halves make up this painting which is rich in detail. If you closely inspect the painting you will be bowled over by Rembrandt's ability to portray even the most microscopic detail.

Remembering Rembrandt:
Rembrandt who is said to have created 600 paintings, 300 etchings and 1400 drawings is justly famous. Next year, on the 15th of July 2006, the world celebrates the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt's birth. Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is revered as one of Holland's greatest and most prolific artists, even the Dutch museums are going to get into planning this birthday party!

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