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by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn

The Night Watch, one of Rembrandts most famous paintings, is a group portrait of a division of the civic guard. Rembrandt depicted the group of militiamen in an original way. He did not paint them in neat row or sitting at their annual banquet, rather, he recorded a moment: a group of militiamen have just moved into action and are about to march off.

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn is certainly the most famous of Holland's seventeenth-century painters. He was born in 1606 in Leiden, the fifth son of the miller Harmen Gerritsz. van Rijn. After attending Latin School he registered in 1620 at Leiden University, although he never actually graduated. Rembrandt studied under the Leiden painter Jacob van Swanenburch and under Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam. It was through Lastman that he discovered the powerful contrast of light and dark of Caravaggio and his followers. Back in Leiden he set up together with Jan Lievens as an independent artist, with his own studio and his first pupil: Gerard Dou