Top 10 Famous Paintings of Rembrandt Van Rijn

Rembrandt is the most celebrated Dutch painter(1606 – 1669). Making religious theme and portraiture his main subjects led his works hung in the world’s top museums and private collections.

Many of Rembrandt’s painting was painted during the Dutch Golden Age, where Dutch trade, artwork, and science work was considered impactful in the world.

The most celebrated painting is the Night Watch originally painted to show the scene of the day time, but with the use of dark colours, it darkened the painting and led to be called – The Night Watch.

Other significant paintings of Rembrandt include The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp, 6 The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, and Self Portrait with Beret and Turned-up Collar.

Here is the list of top 10 famous paintings of Rembrandt van Rijn.

10. The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp

Year1632
MediumOil Painting
LocationMauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery

One of the most famous artworks of Rembrandt, the Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp, was painted in the year 1632 when he was 25 years old. 

Dr Nicolaes Tulp is teaching the Anatomy lesson to the seven surgeons, who paid some commission to be part of it.

The lecture is about the attachment of muscles to the arm, which is made clear with the use of light and dark.

A corpse of a criminal, in charge of armed robbery, Aris Kindt, being experimented for the anatomy lesson can be seen in the real painting. 

It was the first commissioned art piece of Rembrandt which was able to break the genre conventions with a corpse being placed in the centre of the painting.

The event shown on the portray was a social event of the 17th Century, where the lesson on Anatomy was conducted with the executed criminals and was mostly performed and captured on canvas. 

Today, this painting is hung in the Mauritshuis Art Museum, The Hague.

 9. The Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Year1633
MediumOil on Canvas
LocationMuseum of Boston

The 1633 masterpiece of Rembrandt, the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, was stolen(1990) and never found. Now, only the eerie sight of an empty frame can be witnessed at the Museum of Boston.

It is based on the story of Jesus and his twelve disciples sailing on the sea of Galilee, where Jesus goes down the back of the boat and decides to sleep, right then the ship gets hit by a storm. 

The painting also includes Rembrandt on the boat, as an extra disciple of Jesus. He displays himself holding on to the rope with one hand and with the other holding his hat.

He is displaying himself holding on despite his real-life storms, where the death of three children, his wife, his mother, and also him going bankruptcy, 

Painting is of the time of crisis relating to his own life. The aftermath of this displayed image is Jesus, rising and telling the winds and waves to be still, and the situation calms down.

8. Danae

Source: Wikipedia
Year1636
MediumOil on Canvas
LocationHermitage Musuem, St. Petersburg

Dramatic painting, Danae, painted in the year 1636, portrays a Greek goddess Danae welcoming Zeus(King of gods) into her bed. She was a princess, the mother of Persues, who was tied in a bronze chamber by her father as her son planned on murdering him.

Modelled by Rembrandt’s wife, Saskia van Ulyenburgh, later the face was replaced by his mistress Geertje Dircx’s face. It displays the emotional aspects of the Greek princes rather than focusing on physical appearance. 

The portrait became a controversial portrait. It was attempted to destroy once with an acid attack by a soviet Lithuanian national, Bronius Maigys, and again by trying to cut it with a knife (1985).

The portrait was damaged on the areas of Danae’s face, hair, right arm, and legs. It was later restored in the year 1997.

The painting is housed in the Hermitage Museum in St.Petersburg Russia since the Eighteenth Century.

7. The Night Watch

The Night Watch
Source: Rijksmuseum
Year1642
MediumOil on Canvas
LocationRijksmusuem, Amsterdam

The Night Watch painted in 1642 was the most celebrated paintings of Rembrandt art career and Dutch golden age.

The painting is about the Militia Company of District II under the command of Captain Frans Bannick Cocq, which was its original name. 

Due to it’s over varnishing and low light, it darkened the painting on the canvas and was called the Night Watch, which got stuck after that.

The painting was meant to be a day-time scene, where the civic guards, groups of well-to-do citizens of Amsterdam, were tasked to keep the peace if any threat comes to the city walls.

Exploding the genre through his paintings, he made his paintings like an eruption of action, shadow, and light with drama more suited to historical epic.

The balance between the unity and chaos shown in the painting, with a lot of movement, by making people lurch to different directions, performing various actions, makes this painting most impactful.

Today, the painting is hung in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

6. Portrait of Jan Six

Portrait of Jan Six
Source: Wikipedia
Year1654
MediumOil on Canvas
Location Amsterdam Museum

Jan Six, a rich merchant, with a highly impactful cultural image throughout the Dutch Golden Age, was one of the closest friends of Rijn. 

The Portrait of Jan Six displaying the still position of Jan Six while he is about to put on his gloves was painted in the year 1654.

Though the expert work on displaying the gloves, hands, and a red cloak is visible and appreciated, Jan Six’s expression has the most significant effect on the whole. It involves the multiple reworks to capture the genuine momentary abstractional emotion.

Rembrandt painted the portrait of his friend on his 3rd Amsterdam Period, which was from 1643 to 1658. This painting of him is considered to be the most exquisite artwork of his career.

5. Bathsheba at Her Bath

Bathsheba at Her Bath
Source: Wikipedia
Year1654
MediumOil on Canvas
Location Loivre Musuem, Paris

The famous painting, Bathsheba at Her Bath, was painted in the year 1654. It depicted Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba at her bath when she was seen by King David, who fell in love at his first sight.

Getting her pregnant with his child, King David, sent his soldier Uriah for war and got him killed by the general and then married Bathsheba.

The painting displays an old maid washing Bathsheba’s feet while she is holding a letter sent by King David in her hand. It also shows an expert work on her facial expression, where she is found to be in deep thoughts.

It is considered to be an expert work, as it portrays the realistic female body rather than an idolised form, which led to acquiring massive praise from the critics.

Today the painting is hung in the Louvre Museum, Paris.

4. Self Portrait with Beret and Turned-up Collar

Self Portrait with Beret and Turned-up Collar
Source: Wikipedia
Year1659
MediumOil on Canvas
Location National Gallery of Art, Washington

The Self- Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar was painted in the year 1659, 10 years before Rembrandt’s death.

Being an artist most capable of creating self-portraits, he made himself well-known for painting such kind, and this was one of his most celebrated self-portraits.

They are painted during his hard times, trying to avoid bankruptcy, which is shown with the use of looser brushstrokes.

Contains detailed attention on the various parts such as cheekbones and wrinkles under his eyes, it turns into an impactful art piece.

It also depicts himself wearing large-cap or beret with his collar turned up. Portraits at the age of 50, it shows the sincere depiction of himself.

3. Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild

Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild
Source:
Year1662
MediumOil on Canvas
LocationRijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild which is also known as the Sampling Officials was completed in the year 1662.

Depiction of a group of syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers Guilds working to evaluate the quality of fabrics which was offered to them by the weavers. Five of them are the Board of the Guild and a man wearing a calotte standing at the back is the servant.

Syndics always held their meeting at the hall of the Drapers Guild, so after the completion of the painting, it was first displayed here.

Rembrandt has successfully depicted the individuality by the variety in the expressions and instil a sense of togetherness by combining various compositional devices.

This painting is now hung in Rijksmuseum, a Dutch National Museum situated in Amsterdam.

2. The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis

The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis was the last painting of Rembrandt
Year1662
MediumOil on Canvas
LocationNational Musuem, Stockholm

The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis was the last painting of Rembrandt based on a secular theme. It was an oil painting, one of the largest paintings of his art career and was completed in 1661-62. 

This secular-themed painting depicts Batavian Rebellion leader Claudius Civilis and the Batavi chief who is promising to incorporate the rebellion against the Roman Empire.

After the commission of this painting in the new Town Hall, Amsterdam, it was again modified by Rembrandt. He cut it down to slightly smaller size to make it sellable.

Today the painting is housed in the National Museum in Stockholm and is owned by the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts.

1. The Jewish Bride

The Jewish Bride
Source: Google Art Project
Year1667
MediumOil on Canvas
LocationRijksmuseum

The Jewish Bride painted in the year 1667 is a painting surrounded by a mystery. It was taken so after Vincent Van Gogh said he would be happy to give up 10 years of his life to get a chance to stare at it for a fortnight.

Capturing soft intimacy with a gentle embrace and showing the physical and emotional aspects of love, with the placement of a man’s hand on the woman’s heart, and woman encouraging his touch with her hand on his side, resembles the love, sadness, and acceptance.

The love and the emotion it portraits are powerful and also some technical sides can also be found. The placement of man’s hand and woman’s hand on top displays the painting of a human heart.

It represents the anatomical representation of the heart, where the man is considered as the right chamber of the heart and woman, the left chamber of the heart. 

This art piece is taken as one of the highest expressions, expressing a tender fusion of physical and spiritual love.

Conclusion:

Rembrandt was most active during the 16-17th Century and was most renowned for his skill of light and shadow, which made his paintings exceptionally realistic.

With capturing the mood and emotions of the models and the situation, he made his paintings highly celebrated.

His other significant artwork includes The Return of the Prodigal Son, Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph, and The Self Portraits with Two Circles.

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Cite this article as: Richard Marrison, "Top 10 Famous Paintings of Rembrandt Van Rijn," in HistoryTen, March 16, 2020, https://historyten.com/arts/top-famous-rembrandt-van-rijn-paintings/.
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