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Two eyes peer out of the gloom, they are the eyes of Rembrandt van Rijn, a man whose name is synonymous with the Dutch Golden Age and the city of Amsterdam. Although he was not man of letters, Rembrandt left posterity a comprehensive autobiography; his self-portraits. Rembrandt drew, etched and painted his own likeness over a hundred times resulting in a unique record of not only his changing physical appearance, but the development of his artistic career. In his portraiture, Rembrandt was able to render a sense of the interior lives of his subjects, providing an insight into the self. Yet not only did he depict wealthy patrons but also the poor that he encountered throughout his life, painting them with immense empathy. Yet to limit Rembrandt’s reputation to portraiture is to underestimate his achievements. He painted religious, historical and contemporary scenes, as well as landscapes and animals. Such scenes are full of dramatic intensity, without being over theatrical. Like the Venetian master, Titian, Rembrandt’s brushstrokes became bolder as he grew older, his later paintings displaying rough and thickly applied paint. Rembrandt is the pre-eminent master of Dutch painting and for many, Holland’s greatest artist.
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