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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

The legend of the Dutch Golden Age - whenever Rembrandt spoke, people would listen. Here we examine some of the memorable quotes from his lifetime and also discover opinions on him from other notable figures.

Having contributed to the art world as far back as the 17th century, many resources on Rembrandt van Rijn would have been lost over the centuries that followed. The fame of this great man, however, has ensured that plenty still remains and we can have an accurate understanding of his life and career, including through various attributed quotes.

Famous Quotes by Rembrandt

I envy the poet. He is encouraged toward drunkenness and wallows with nubile wenches while the painter must endure wretchedness and pain for his art.

A painting is finished when the artist says it is finished.

But his faith is a faith that to him is real, and it is a faith, in my judgement, that sustained him through the hard times in his life.

Life etches itself onto our faces as we grow older, showing our violence, excesses or kindnesses.

A painting is complete when it has the shadows of a god.

Choose only one master – Nature.

Sincerity is the eventual deception of all great men.

For in these two paintings the greatest and most natural movement has been expressed, which is also the main reason why they have taken so long to execute.

Painting is the grandchild of nature. It is related to God.

Of course you will say that I ought to be practical and ought to try and paint the way they want me to paint. Well, I will tell you a secret. I have tried and I have tried very hard, but I can't do it. I just can't do it! And that is why I am just a little crazy.

Without atmosphere a painting is nothing.

Try to put well in practice what you already know; and in so doing, you will in good time, discover the hidden things which you now inquire about. Practice what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know.

A painting is not made to be sniffed.

Quotations and Opinions on Rembrandt

Rembrandt goes so deep into the mysterious that he says things for which there are no words in any language. It is with justice that they call Rembrandt—magician—that's no easy occupation.

Vincent van Gogh

For Rembrandt each etching "originated the deeply felt need to make that particular print."

K. G. Boon

I am a big fan of the Impressionists, and in my school days, I was inspired by Caravaggio, Velazquez and Rembrandt.

Ronnie Wood

You are not thinking hard enough if you are sleeping well. And you would have to be unhinged to take on a subject like the French Revolution, or Rembrandt, and not feel some trepidation. There is always the possibility that you will crash and burn, and the whole thing will be a horrible, vulgar, self-indulgent mess.

Simon Schama

You don't have to be Picasso or Rembrandt to create something. The fun of it, the joy of creating, is way high above anything else to do with the art form.

Chick Corea

In common with Michelangelo and Rembrandt I am more interested in the line, its rise and fall, than in color.

Edvard Munch

You never know about the art world because it's a matter of opinion. If you look at old art like Rembrandt and Vermeer, it's not completely a matter of opinion. The pictures confront you, and you see exactly what it is. In modern art, a lot of it is suggestive, and it becomes a matter of opinion.

Peter Saul

When I look in the mirror, I am slightly reminded of self-portraits by Durer and by Rembrandt, because they both show a degree of introspection. I see some element of disappointment; I see a sense of humour, but also something that is faintly ridiculous; and I see somebody who is frightened of being found out and thought lightweight.

Robert Winston

Whenever I see a Frans Hals, I feel the desire to paint; but when I see a Rembrandt, I want to give it up.

Max Liebermann

I don't think there's an illustrator who's as good as a Titian or a Rembrandt... but then, Rembrandt was a bit of an illustrator on the quiet, you know?

Quentin Blake