Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is generally considered the most important Dutch painter of the 17th century. Rembrandt was also a proficient engraver and made many drawings. His contributions to art were made in a period that historians call the Dutch Golden Age (roughly equivalent to the 17th century), in which Dutch culture, science, commerce, world power and political influence reached its pinnacle.
All in all, Rembrandt produced around 600 paintings, 300 etchings and 2000 drawings. He was a prolific painter of self-portraits, producing almost a hundred of them (including some 20 etchings) throughout his long career. Together they give us a remarkably clear picture of the man, his looks, but more importantly his emotions, as misfortune and sorrow etched wrinkles in his face.
His command of light and dark, often using stark contrasts, draws the viewer into the painting. His dramatic and lively scenes, devoid of any rigid formality, and his deep felt compassion for mankind are among the prominent characteristics of his work.
His immediate family, his first wife Saskia, his son Titus, and his second wife Hendrickje often figured prominently in his paintings, many of which had mythical, biblical, or historical themes.