A crowd bids on a painting by Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn at a London auction at Sotheby's in 1966.

Photograph by James P. Blair, National Geographic
  • On July 15, 1606, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was born in Leiden, Dutch Republic (now the Netherlands). Rembrandt, the son of a miller, gained fame as a painter and etcher. His series of self-portraits and innovative use of muted light have made Rembrandt one of the leading “Old Masters” of European art.

    Rembrandt painted at a pivotal period in European society. For one of the first times in history, large group portraits were not only commissioned by churches and the clasaristocracy. The growing Dutch merchant class was beautifully depicted in such Rembrandt works as "The Syndics of the Draper’s Guild" (where well-dressed men inspect dyed cloth), "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp" (showing a group listening to a lecture around a corpse), and, most famously, "The Night Watch," in which a militia group marches past onlookers.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    acknowledge Verb

    to recognize the truth or existence of something.

    aristocracy Noun

    elite group of people based on wealth or social status.

    class Noun

    set of data falling within specific limits or boundaries.

    commission Verb

    to formally order or give permission to work.

    corpse Noun

    dead body.

    depict Verb

    to represent or draw.

    innovate Verb

    to invent or introduce something new.

    merchant Noun

    person who sells goods and services.

    militia Noun

    group of armed, ordinary citizens who are called up for emergencies and are not full-time soldiers.

    render Verb

    to convert animal fats, such as lard or blubber, into an oil by heating it over a low temperature.