Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was born in 1606 in Leiden, The Netherlands. He attended Latin school before enrolling at Leiden University in 1620 (although he never graduated).

Rembrandt studied painting under two famous Dutch painters; the Leiden painter Jacob van Swanenburch, and the Amsterdam painter Pieter Lastman. In Leiden, he set up a studio for independent artists. In his early years as an established painter, Rembrandt painted numerous biblical scenes. They were usually small paintings with great detail and bright colors.

In 1631 Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam. Here he found a much larger demand for portraits, that he painted on commission. He also taught many pupils, including Ferdinand Bol, Govert Flinck, and Carel Fabritius. Rembrandt also painted many historic scenes, and several etches and drawings. In 1642, Rembrandt painted a historic group portrait of the Company of Frans Banning Cocq, which later became famous as "De Nachtwacht" (The Nightwatch, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).

Rembrandt married Saskia Uylenburgh in 1634, but a year after their son Titus was born (1641), Saskia died. Rembrandt then took on his housekeeper Geertje Dircks, and later Hendrickje Stoffels, with whom he had a daughter in 1654.

Later in his life, Rembrandt built up considerable debts, and was forced to sell his house and possessions. He died in 1669, and was buried in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam.

Rembrandt is famous for his chiaroscuro, the use of light and shade rather than color. His heritage consists of more than 600 paintings, and approximately 300 etchings.