Rembrandt’s Other Talents That You Don’t Know

Rembrandt's Other Talents That You Don't Know

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, more famously referred to as Rembrandt, was a painter during the Dutch Golden Age. He is considered the best visual artist in Art History. Rembrandt van Rijn’s paintings are a part of many famous art collections. His work was so profound that it created new genres of art. 

Rembrandt had a rather misfortuned life filled with grief; however, he never let that stop him from pursuing his creative talents and sharing them with the world. Even after losing almost everything he held dear to him, he painted his last self-portrait. 

Although best-known for his paintings, especially his self-portraits and biblical scenes, Rembrandt’s art was not limited. What few people don’t know is that Rembrandt had other artistic talents. Did you know that Rembrandt van Rijn owned a printing press? Or that he was the greatest etcher in history? Did you know that he would also draw and that he was a draughtsman too? Let us take a closer look at Rembrandt’s lesser-known work.


Etching is a printmaking technique that uses a chemical reaction to create incised lines on a metal printing plate that holds the applied ink to form an image. First, a copper or zinc plate is prepared with acid-resistant ground. Next, lines are drawn through the ground, leading to the exposure of the metal. This is followed by the immersion of the plate in acid, and the exposed metal is corroded to produce incised lines.

What many people don’t know is that it was Rembrandt’s etching that was responsible for his renowned reputation. During Rembrandt’s era, etching was a reasonably new idea. However, this didn’t stop Rembrandt from pushing the limits and testing his talent. He used etching to create self-portraits, biblical and mythological scenes, and landscapes. 

In 1630, Rembrandt etched a self-portrait called Self-Portrait in a Cap, Open-Mouthed. The viewer can easily see that it resembles Rembrandt. He used contours and cross-hatching to create shadows and different tones on his face. 


Printmaking is the famous process of creating artworks by printing on paper, fabric, wood, metal, and other surfaces. Prints are created by transferring ink from a metal etching plate, usually copper or zinc, to a sheet of paper or another material. 

Rembrandt owned his printing press that printed these engravings on Japanese paper. However, after he went bankrupt, Rembrandt had to sell his printing press. 

A beautiful example of Rembrandt’s prints is The Bathers (1651). Although the artwork uses simple contour techniques, we can admire the beautiful scene of three men bathing in a river. The men look calm and at peace. The man sitting on the riverbank seems to be deep in thought. Rembrandt never missed an opportunity to give the subjects of his art facial expressions that clearly show emotions.

The Bathers –  Rembrandt


Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn  was considered to be a Master Draughtsman. So there is no surprise that Rembrandt was prolific in all the artistic paths he took. In addition to his 600 paintings, Rembrandt also produced 1,400 drawings. These included animals, people, landscapes, and of course, himself. Some were shaded with immense detail, making them more realistic, while others were simple and even vague. 

One of his most well-known drawings is A Woman Sleeping (1655). Rembrandt uses curved lines to form a clear image of a woman sleeping. Most drafters would use more shading and toning to achieve realism; in this drawing, Rembrandt has used minimal strokes to attain some details. We can see the wrinkles in her clothing, the strands of her hair, and the subtle creases in her brow, indicating that she is asleep since her eyes are not visible. 

Although Rembrandt made so many drawings, they were hardly ever sold or released to the public. Like many artists, Rembrandt van Rijn would sketch his ideas as they came to him. Most of his drawings served as notes for other projects he was working on. Rembrandt would often sketch things he was looking at; they were quick and lacked much detail. We are thankful that we have some of these ingenious scribbles on record. 


After enrolling in University, Rembrandt quickly realized that he was a gifted and passionate artist. He then started to apprentice to many experienced artists for four years. This was the custom for artists during that time. After his four-year apprenticeship, Rembrandt opened his workshop when he was only eighteen years old. 

He shared this studio with his friend and colleague Jan Lievens and began to teach his art students, some of which would become great painters. Shortly after opening his studio, Rembrandt’s work would catch the eyes of prominent people. 

Rembrandt, no doubt, had techniques that no one else knew; therefore, we are thankful that Rembrandt chose to open a workshop and pass on his skills. His remarkable talent needed to be shared; teaching others is vital to advancing society.

The Bottom Line

Rembrand’s artworks famously consist of paintings; however, he used his life to do so much more. Fortunately, through preserving historical objects, we have access to his thoughts and ideas as portrayed through sketches. In addition, Rembrandt’s art explored new avenues, such as etching and printing, and boldly showed the world how much could be achieved. Yet, there is more to this painter than what meets the eye. 

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