Rembrant is considered to be the greatest Dutch painter and also one of the best painters of all time. Born the son of a Leiden mill owner, the young Rembrandt attended the local university in 1620, but in the following year apprenticed to the now-obscure but then relatively important local artist Jacob Isaacsz van Swanenburgh, with whom he remained for three years. In 1624 Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam, where he apprenticed to the fashionable Pieter Lastman, but he only remained there for a year before returning to Leiden.
It was not until 1631 that Rembrandt received his first important commission, for the Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp.
Rembrandt had mostly concentrated on small panel pictures of religious and mythological subject matter until this time, the painting of anatomy lessons was a matter of course during this period. His formal portraits of these years are numerous Rembrandt's most fruitful relationship was with Constantin Huyghens, who was the secretary to the Stadholder Prince Frederick Henry of Orange. He was also sufficiently esteemed by the Orange household to receive a commission to paint Amelia von Solms, the Stadholder's wife. This picture was identified recently; before it was thought to represent Rembrandt's sister or his wife. In 1634 Rembrant married Saskia, the daughter of a wealthy burgomaster from Leeuwarden in Friesland. She served as a model for many of Rembrant’s religious and mythological pictures before she died in 1642 from tuberculosis and was buried in the Oude Kerk (Old Church). After Saskia’s death Rembrant focused on drawings and etchings.
Throughout the 1630s Rembrant experienced a period of apparent success. In the last 20 years of Rembrants life, he became increasingly independent and detached from his artistic environment. His pictures became more inwardly emotional and many are undated. He began suffering from financial troubles from his extravagance and carelessness, he eventually went bankrupt in 1656. Rembrant’s last years were not without commissions, but he did not have enough to make a proper living.