In commencing an account of the life of Rembrandt Van Rhÿn and his works, I feel both a pleasure and a certain degree of confidence, as, from my first using a pencil, his pictures have been my delight and gratification, which have continued to increase through a long life of investigation. Though I cannot expect to enhance the high estimation in which Rembrandt is held by all persons competent to appreciate his extraordinary powers, nevertheless, the publication of the results of my study may tend to spread a knowledge of his principles and practice, which may be advantageous to similar branches in other schools; for, notwithstanding that his style is in the greatest degree original and peculiar to himself, yet it is founded upon those effects existing in nature which are to be discovered, more or less, in the works of all the great masters of colouring and chiaro-scuro. Of his early life little is known; for, unless cradled in the higher circles of society, the early lives of eminent men frequently remain shrouded in obscurity. The development of their genius alone draws attention to their history, which is generally progressive; hence a retrospective view is ambiguous. Little is known either of Rembrandt's birth or the place of his death; what is known has already been related, from Houbraken to Bryan, and from Bryan to Nieuwenhuys, and anecdotes have accumulated, for something new must be said. It is, however, fortunate that in searching into the source from which this extraordinary artist drew his knowledge, we have only to look into the great book of Nature, which existed at the time of Apelles and Raffaelle; and, notwithstanding the diversity of styles adopted by all succeeding painters, beauties and peculiarities are still left sufficient to establish the highest reputation for any one who has the genius to perceive them, and the industry to make them apparent. This was the cause of Rembrandt's captivating excellence; neither a combination of Coreggio and Titian, nor of Murillo and Velasquez, but as if all the great principles of chiaro-scuro and colour were steeped and harmonized in the softening shades of twilight; and this we perceive in nature, producing the most soothing and bewitching results. These digressions may, however, come more properly into notice when Rembrandt's principles of colour come under review.

Rembrandt Van Rhÿn, the subject of this memoir, was born in the year 1606, between Leydendorp and Koukerk, in the neighbourhood of Leyden, on the Rhÿn, but certainly not in a mill, as there is no habitable dwelling in the one now known as his father's. My excellent young friend, Mr. E. W. Cooke, whose works breathe the true spirit of the best of the Dutch school, in a letter upon this subject, says—

"My dear Sir,

"I send you another sketch of the mill; the picture, including the doorzigte, or view out of the window, I painted on the spot, and that picture is now in the possession of the King of Holland, having taken it back with me to show him. The mill was a magazine for powder during the Spanish invasion; it was soon after converted into a corn mill, and was in the possession of Hernan Geritz Van Rhÿn when his son Rembrandt was born; it is situated at Koukerk, on the old Rhÿn, near Leyden. I hope you will correct the vulgar error that Rembrandt was born in a mill. There are often dwelling houses attached to water-mills, such as we have in England; but in Holland, not such a structure as a water-mill, with water-power; the water-mills there are only draining mills, such as we have in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, &c. Surely the noise and movement of a windmill would ill accord with the confinement of any lady, especially the mother of so glorious a fellow as Rembrandt. For the honour of such association I hope you will not omit my name in the work, for I painted three pictures of that precious relic.

"Yours, &c.          
"E. W. Cooke."


The mill now known as the one possessed by Rembrandt's father is built of stone, with an inscription, and "Rembrandt," in gold letters, over the door. The one etched by his eminent son is a wooden structure, which must have long since fallen into decay. As they are both interesting, from association of ideas, I have given etchings of them.