Paul Harmens Rembrandt Van Ryn, a Dutch painter, born in Leyden, July 15, 1607, died in Amsterdam, Oct. 8, 1669. He was the son of a miller, and the suffix van Ryn was derived from his birth in a windmill on the bank of the Old Rhine (Oude Ryn). He was first placed with Jacob van Swanenburch of Leyden, and afterward studied under Pieter Lastman at Amsterdam. About 1623 he fitted up a studio in his father's mill. It is supposed that from noticing the effects produced upon surrounding objects by the one ray admitted into the lofty chamber of the mill from the small window which formed its ventilator, he derived those notions of color and powerful contrasts of light and shadow which made him the great master of chiaroscuro. He produced his first great work, a portrait of his mother, in 1628, and in 1630 he settled in Amsterdam. His pictures brought large prices, pupils flocked to him from all parts of northern Europe, for the instruction of each of whom he received 100 florins a year, and from his etchings, which he produced in great numbers and which were esteemed as highly as his paintings, his profits were also considerable. He married Saskia van Ulenburgh in 1634, and had four children, none of whom survived him. He mingled little in society, but passed hours at the ale house.

A second marriage involved him in difficulties; he was declared a bankrupt in 1656, and the remainder of his years were spent in poverty. As a historical painter Rembrandt held that the imitation of vulgar nature was preferable to the cultivation of ideal beauty; and his manner depends upon the elaboration of a single element in art, that of light and shade. His merits and defects are equally striking. Among his portraits, that of "Nicholas Tulp dissecting in the Presence of his Pupils," the Staalmeesters, or council of one of the guilds of Amsterdam, the "Ship Builder and his "Wife," the "Jew Merchant," and the "Night Watch" are most esteemed. Of his historical pictures the most remarkable are "Duke Adolphus of Gueldres threatening his Father," "Moses destroying the Tables of the Law," "The Sacrifice of Abraham," "The Woman taken in Adultery," "The Descent from the Cross," "The Nativity," "Christ in the Garden with Mary Magdalene," and "The Adoration of the Magi." His peculiar style is perhaps more strikingly displayed in his etchings than in his paintings. They were a great source of profit to him, and one, "Christ healing the Sick," was called the "Hundred Guilders," from the fact that he refused to sell it for less than that sum.

In 1868 a second-state impression of this plate was sold in London for £1,180. His paintings, of which 640 are specified in Smith's Catalogue raisonné, are variously valued at from $500 to $20,000. The best of them are still owned in Holland. - The most authentic account of his life is in French by C. Vosmaer (2 vols., the Hague, 1869). See also Rembrandt, discours sur sa vie et son génie, etc, translated from the Dutch of P. Scheltema (Paris, 1866).