Teniers reached his excellence early in life, and was but twenty-two years old when he was admitted to the Guild of Painters at Antwerp. That Rubens was his friend is proved by the fact that when Teniers married the daughter of Jan Breughel, in 1637, that great master was one of the witnesses to the ceremony. In 1656 he married his second wife, the daughter of the Secretary of State for Brabant. By his artistic and personal merits Teniers gained a higher place in society than was ever held by any other genre painter of the Flemish or Dutch schools. He was eighty-four years old when he died, and was active and industrious up to the close of his life.

Although Teniers had such good fortune during his life, I fancy he would have been surprised if he could have known what his fame would be now, or what prices would be paid for his pictures about two centuries after his death. The “Flemish Kermes” was bought for the Brussels Museum in 1867 for twenty-five thousand dollars, and at the San Donato sale, in 1880, the “Prodigal Son” sold for sixteen thousand two hundred dollars, and the “Five Senses” for fifteen thousand dollars. It is difficult to distinguish the etchings of the son from those of the father, David Teniers the elder, though it is well known that the son executed such works.

Gerard Honthorst (1592-1660) was also a painter of genre scenes, and many of his works had figures of life size. His chief distinction, however, was that of painting the effects of artificial lights. He was famous in England and Italy as well as in his own country, and the Italians called him “Gherardo della Notte,” or Gerard of the Night, because he painted so many night-scenes lighted by candles, lamps, and torches.

Then there was a class of Dutch artists who represented the interiors of fine houses—rooms with all sorts of beautiful furniture and ornaments, with ladies and gentlemen in splendid costumes. They tried to show the effects of light upon satins, glass, metals, and other shining objects. They painted with great care, and finished their pictures in the most perfect manner. Gerhard Terburg (1608-1681), Gerhard Dow(1613-1675), and Gabriel Metsu (1615-after 1667) were all remarkable for works of this kind.

Pieter de Hooge, who worked from 1628 to 1671, and of whose life little is known, painted similar pictures of court-yards as well as of rooms in houses. The list of the names of all these Dutch masters cannot be given here, and I hasten to tell you of one whose name and fame is so great that when we hear of Dutch art we always think first of him, because he stands out as its head.

Rembrandt van Ryn (1607-1669) was born at Leyden, and was educated by his parents with the hope that he would be a scholar and a prominent man in Leyden. But his taste for drawing and painting would not be put aside, and in 1620 he entered the studio of J. J. van Swanenburg, where he learned the first lessons in his art, and was then placed under the teaching of Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam, where he remained only six months, after which he returned to his father’s house, and there lived for seven years. He was not far from seventeen years old when he thus left the usual course of study. From this time he gave himself up to close observation of nature in every form.

He studied broad landscapes—farms, groves, gardens, rivers, canals, sunshine, clouds, and shadows, and with and above all these, the human faces that he saw, as well as the varying forms, movements, and peculiarities of the men and women about him. That nothing escaped his observation is proved by the works he did in later life.

In 1630 Rembrandt settled in Amsterdam, which was called the “Venice of the North,” and was the centre of northern commerce, civilization, and the activity of political and intellectual life. Rembrandt was no sooner established in his studio on one of the western quays than he was pressed with orders for pictures and applications from young men who desired his instructions. The years following were crowded with work—with painting and engraving. Rembrandt is called the “Prince of Etchers,” and he used the etching needle most skilfully, but he also employed the dry-point and even the graver in finishing. Thus he may be said to have established a new school of engraving of great excellence.

Fig 58 Fig. 58.—One of Rembrandt’s Portraits of Himself.

It would seem that in these early years one of his amusements was to make etchings of himself. In one year, 1630-31, he made nineteen of these portraits in different costumes and positions, with as many kinds of expression on his face. He often repeated the portrait of his mother also.