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THE
R
EMBRANDT
R
ESEARCH COMMITTEE
Pioneers in Digital Research and Attribution

THE REMBRANDT VAN RIJN ABRIDGED BIOGRAPHY
RETURN TO LEYDEN, CHAPTER VI

"...the best Italian pictures could be conveniently and thoroughly studied in Dutch collections." After leaving the apprenticeship of Pieter Lastman, Rembrandt worked with and became very close friends with Jan Lievens in a business that was owned by a man by the name of Paulus. Rembrandt was unhappy in this relationship and often met with his old Master, Pieter Lastman, to discuss becoming an independent artist in his own right. Both Pieter Lastman and Jan Lievens encouraged Rembrandt to take this step. Following Lastman’s and Lievens' advice, Rembrandt returned to Leyden when he was not yet twenty years of age to establish himself independently as an artist of note. Throughout their lives Rembrandt, Lievens and Lastman remained close friends, and Rembrandt repeatedly looked to both for advice.
    Unlike the other masters of the day, Rembrandt did not undertake the journey to Italy to develop his talent and understanding. Rembrandt’s artist friends told him that travel to Italy was imperative to the complete and successful development of his artistic ability. Rembrandt response was that travelling to Italy was a waste of time and too much trouble, since the best Italian pictures could be conveniently and thoroughly studied in Dutch collections. Through the years Rembrandt studied many of the fine Italian works that were in these Dutch collections and later in life possessed several Italian pictures and a large number of engravings.
    One technique Rembrandt learned from his study of the Italian paintings in Leyden collections was to include a self-portrait of himself in paintings that consisted of complex subjects with several figures. The Italians felt this practice to be a good technique for signing a painting, as in this time, the ability to read was not universal. Therefore, when someone viewed a painting that included the artist’s image, it served as a signature. As the Baroque period developed and literacy became more of a norm, Rembrandt, like so many other artists of the day, changed his self-portrait signing technique and started to apply a monogram. Rembrandt later replaced the monogram with his signature.
    Very little of Rembrandt’s work during his earliest period in Leyden has survived.
    During this same period, Rembrandt began to experiment with the format of the Grand Tableaux. Many paintings from this Leyden period were later attributed to the hand of Rembrandt but were merely studio paintings on which Rembrandt worked with others. Rembrandt was fascinated with the grand format; however, it was many years before his fame grew to where he was able to receive commissions to paint in this grand format.
    During the late Leyden years of 1625 to 1631, pupils regularly sought out Rembrandt, seeking apprenticeships. He was already regarded as a master by many. Rembrandt’s works became more and more renowned and sought after. Often Rembrandt travelled to Amsterdam, the centre of artistic life, to paint portraits and undertake other commissions.
 
"Many paintings from this Leyden period were later attributed to the hand of Rembrandt but were merely studio paintings..."

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