Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

Netherlands, b.1606, d.1669

Portrait of Jan Asselijn

  • Purchased, 1981
  • Etching
  • 238 x 182mm
  • 81/71
  • 1647

Jan Asselijn (after 1610-1652) was a fellow Dutch artist of French descent. He was a contemporary of Rembrandt van Rijn who has shown him beside his books and papers in a typical Dutch pose. Rembrandt is acknowledged as the foremost portrait painter of his age and around 1628 he began using etchings to explore a wide range of approaches to portraiture. Here he has used an expressive network of lines that give the work a directness and vitality quite revolutionary in the mid 17th century. Born in Leiden the son of a miller, Rembrandt initially studied in Leiden, then in Amsterdam. On his return to Leiden he quickly established a high reputation as an artist. Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam in 1631 and married Saskia van Uylenburgh, whose cousin was an art dealer through whom Rembrandt made many important and wealthy contacts among art patrons. He quickly established a very successful portrait practice. Despite this, high living forced Rembrandt to declare bankruptcy in 1656. He died in Amsterdam.