Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 – 1669) is one of the most famous artists of all time. His name inhabits the same celestial sphere of fame and renown as Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Picasso. A master of multiple media (both as a painter and an etcher) and a marketing genius, Rembrandt made a name for himself during what was, perhaps, the most fertile period of artistic expression in human history: the Dutch Golden Age. His work is held by the greatest museums around the world: the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston all have a number of the master’s works. While his paintings routinely sell for millions, his etchings are more economical for most collectors.


Born in 1606 in the city of Leiden, Rembrandt began drawing at a young age. He studied under a painter in Leiden before moving to Amsterdam in 1624. It was in this city, the cultural and political hub of the newly independent Dutch Republic, that Rembrandt would find immense success. As a result of immense financial resources and an influx of private wealth from trade, Amsterdam and the Dutch Republic in the 17th century reached a pinnacle of art that rivaled Classical Athens, Renaissance Florence, and 19th century Paris. Rembrandt benefited from the fruits of this Golden Age, and quickly found himself among the most sought after artists of his day and age.

Rembrandt van Rijn Self-Portrait (MMA, NYC)
Rembrandt van Rijn, "Self-Portrait". 1660. Oil on Canvas. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.

Rembrandt the Great

Why is Rembrandt considered one of the greatest artists of all time? There are many answers to this question, and, to fully answer it, we must dig into his art. His artworks fit into multiple categories, but, most notably, he painted group portraits, self-portraits, and Biblical scenes. His most famous painting, bar none, is The Night Watch (1642) at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. This painting, a group portrait of a militia company in Amsterdam, shows Rembrandt’s technical mastery and deftness in displaying the different personalities and emotions of the figures in the painting. We can gain insight into the various characters, notably Captain Frans Banninck Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch, who stand at the center. While Rembrandt was not the first group portraitist, he was among the finest.

Rembrandt’s focus on emotion and personality, however, is best demonstrated by his self-portraits. In each self-portrait, Rembrandt shows a different dimension of himself. We see him when he is on top of the world, dressed as a king, with a defiant and proud air. We see him when he went bankrupt, as he looks longingly into the viewer’s soul with tired, round eyes and a depressed countenance. The viewer can read into Rembrandt’s emotions, and know exactly what the artist was feeling when he produced the portrait. This is the mark of a brilliant and masterful artist.

Rembrandt van Rijn etching of Two Beggars Conversing
Rembrandt van Rijn, "Two Beggars Conversing". Ca. 1630. Etching on paper.

The Etchings of Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt’s religious scenes show the same level of attention to emotion and feeling on the part of both viewer and artist. Nest Egg Auctions has sold an example of Rembrandt’s religious artwork. His etching, The Triumph of Mordecai (ca. 1641), shows a scene from the Old Testament of the Bible. The level of detail that Rembrandt expresses in this etching is immense: We see Mordecai dressed in exquisite garments and seated upon a horse. The people who surround him are all dressed differently, from high nobles to common folk, and some are shown almost entirely in outline, while others are dark with meticulous cross-hatching. This masterful use of light is a hallmark of many of Rembrandt’s works, in both his paintings and his etchings, and The Triumph of Mordecai is a grand example of it.

Rembrandt van Rijn Etching of the Triumph of Mordecai
Rembrandt van Rijn, "The Triumph of Mordecai". Ca. 1641. Etching on Paper.

Selling Rembrandt etchings at Nest Egg Auctions

Rembrandt van Rijn’s oil paintings sell for incredible amounts of money, in the millions of dollars. It is an open secret, however, that Rembrandt’s etchings are more accessible to collectors: the etchings of Rembrandt van Rijn usually sell for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, though some examples (the Hundred Guilder Print, for instance) can bring a great deal more. Nest Egg Auctions has sold etchings by Rembrandt, most notably The Triumph of Mordecai, but also including a genre scene of two beggars conversing (ca. 1630). These etchings are an available masterpiece by a true Old Master, produced under his supervision and during his lifetime.

If you have a Rembrandt etching, or think that you might have one, please send us a picture! We would love to see it and talk to you more about what it is you have.