Rembrandt van Rijn is born. His parents are father, Harmen Gerritzsoon van Rijn, a wealthy and prosperous miller, and mother, Neeltgen Willemsdochter van Zuytbrouck, the daughter of a baker. Rembrandt was one of 10 children, of which two died in infancy.
His parents see great potential in Rembrandt as an artist and send him to the Latin School in preparation for admission to the Leiden University.
Rembrandt begins a three-year apprenticeship under artist Jacob Isaacszoon van Swanenburgh (1571-1638), who is a well-known Leiden painter.
In May, Rembrandt attends the Leiden University, two months prior to his 14th birthday. Here he learns classical and biblical stories that later became subjects of his paintings. He is only there for a short time.
Rembrandt is living with his parents in Weddesteeg, Leiden, along with his brothers and sisters Gerrit, Machtelt, Cornelis and Lysbeth. His other brothers, Willem and Adriaen, have already left home.
Rembrandt spends six months in Amsterdam studying under renowned painters Pieter Lastman and Jaun Pynas. He studies history, rhetorical gestures, textual accuracy and other techniques, which are important to his work later on.
Rembrandt and fellow apprentice Jan Lievens (1607 to 1674), who also studied under Lastman and Pynas, set up an art studio together in Leiden.
Rembrandt becomes a known painter in Leiden while still living at home with his parents. “The Stoning of Stephen” is Rembrandt’s earliest dated painting, created during this time. Rembrandt is regularly mentioned as a painter from this year on.
In February, Rembrandt takes on his first pupils, Gerrit Dou (1613 to 1675) and Isaac de Jouderville (1612 to 1645), who later became well-known Dutch Golden Age artists.
Arnold van Buchel (1565-1641), an Utrecht lawyer and a humanist, visits Rembrandt in Leiden and states in a diary that Rembrandt is causing a sensation as an artist. Among his artworks talked about are two etchings of an old woman that are believed to be his mother, as well as a few self portraits.
After a visit to the Northern Netherlands, Ambassador Sir Robert Kerr (1578-1654), who would later become the first Earl of Ancrum, gives several of Rembrandt’s paintings to King Charles I, including one that the artist created of himself that year, which is his earliest dated self-portrait.
Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687), the secretary to Stadholder Frederick Henry, visits Rembrandt’s Leiden studio. Not long after, Huygens commissions Rembrandt to paint for The Hague Court.
Rembrandt moves to Amsterdam, staying at the home of a friend, Hendrick Uylenburgh. Rembrandt uses studio space to paint and becomes a known portraitist.
Rembrandt marries Saskia Uylenburgh (1612-1642) from Friesland. She is the cousin of Rembrandt’s landlord and partner, Hendrick Uylenburgh, and the daughter of the late burgomaster of Leeuwarden, who was also a successful art dealer. They live with her cousin in his house, and remain married until her death.
Rembrandt becomes an Amsterdam citizen. He also joins the local St. Luke’s Guild, which is a union artists are required by law to join in order to make and sell their art.
The first of four children that Rembrandt and Saskia have together is born. However, three die as infants, and only one, son Titus born in September 1641, survives until adulthood.
Rembrandt moves into his townhouse in St. Anthonisbreestraat in Amsterdam, now known as the “Rembrandt House.” It was an area inhabited by many artists.
Rembrandt’s wife Saskia dies, apparently from tuberculosis. He hires Geertje Dircks as the nanny for his son Titus. Soon after, they begin a relationship together and she later becomes his common-law wife. Troubles in their relationship led to Geertje leaving the home in 1647 and later to be jailed.
Rembrandt hires new house servant and wet-nurse, Hendrickje Stoffels. Rembrandt was already having a romantic relationship with Hendrickje upon her employ, which began during the latter part of the time he was with Geertje Dircks. Hendrickje later became his common-law wife, and they stayed together until her death by the plague in 1663.
Geertje Dircks sues Rembrandt for breach-of-promise for not wedding her. Rembrandt would have lost his inheritance that he received through his deceased wife’s family had he remarried, so he refused. Dircks was awarded by the Dutch courts 200 guilders a year, for life, as a maintenance allowance. However, Dircks wanted more money and refused to sign the paperwork for her compensation award, so Rembrandt had her imprisoned in 1650 for breach-of-contract. Dircks remained behind bars for five years, and was released a year prior to her death in 1656.
Rembrandt starts having financial problems, due in part to his breach-of-promise to Geertje Dircks in which he was ordered to pay 200 guilders a year to her for life and for his bad business investments.
Rembrandt and Hendrickje Stoffels have an illegitimate daughter together named Cornelia. They along with his son from his first marriage, Titus, live at Rembrandt’s St. Anthonisbreestraat house in Amsterdam.
Rembrandt is declared bankrupt by the High Court of Holland.
In order to save his inheritance, Rembrandt’s home is placed in his son Titus’s name. His property is liquidated and his goods are taken and sold at auction. Rembrandt makes another poor investment of cargo that becomes lost at sea, including two of his paintings.
Rembrandt, Hendrickje Stoffels, Titus and Cornelia leave the St. Anthonisbreestraat home and move into a rented house in Rozengracht, located in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam. Rembrandt paints himself seated in state like a monarch, and this etched self-portrait is the last he does in this medium.
On December 15, Rembrandt gives financial control of his company over to his son Titus and to his partner Hendrick Uylenburgh. The company is placed in their names, as are Rembrandt’s paintings, graphic art, engravings and other artwork. He continues to paint, but retains no control over business matters, and Titus becomes his universal heir. Rembrandt paints himself as the Apostle Paul.
On July 24, Hendrickje Stoffels dies from the plague and is buried in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam. Rembrandt paints “The Sampling Officials of the Amsterdam Draper’s Guild” (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum) and receives major commissions for portraits and other works from wealthy families, including the well-known Trip family.
Fellow Painter Christiaen Dusart is appointed guardian of Rembrandt’s illegitimate daughter Cornelia van Rijn.
Son Titus van Rijn becomes of age, and he applies for and is awarded legal maturity.
Titus, Rembrandt’s son, dies shortly after marrying Magdalena van Loo, the daughter of a silversmith. He is buried in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam, which is where his mother was laid to rest. Rembrandt lives in Amsterdam with his illegitimate daughter Cornelia.
On March 22, Rembrandt’s granddaughter, Titia van Rijn, is born six months after her father Titus died. Rembrandt paints three self portraits in this year, which turns out to be his last.
Rembrandt dies and is laid to rest in an unmarked and rented grave in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam, which is also where his son and common-law wife are buried. There is little information available regarding the cause of his death, with one report suggesting it was due to temporal arthritis.