Such was the tragic fate of Rembrandt’s wives

Rembrandt van Rijn is one of the most famous painters in the Netherlands, in fact, in the entire world. But his love life is pretty cool too. The women in Rembrandt’s life had a hard time. Someone even sent him to prison. Read the full story here.

Rembrandt’s wife Saskia van Eulenburgh

Rembrandt met his first great love in Amsterdam. He lived there with the art dealer Hendrik van Uylenburgh and made a lot of money with his portraits of wealthy Amsterdammers. During his stay in the capital, he met Saskia van Uellenberg. On June 22, 1634, the two were married. But since then, things have not gone smoothly for them. Saskia gave birth to three children, who all died a few months later. Their fourth child, a boy named Titus, is growing up. Unfortunately, it was Saskia herself who fell ill. She died on July 14, 1642, just before her thirtieth birthday. In the same year, Rembrandt painted his most famous work, night watch.

Portrait of Saskia van Uylenburgh by Rembrandt | Photo: RKD No. 19982

Nanny 1: Gertjee Dix

Around 1641, a year before Saskia’s death, Gertje Dirks came into Rembrandt’s life. She became the sitter of the son Titus. Geertje was (as far as we know) a childless widow. After Saskia’s death, Rembrandt and Gertie had an affair. This relationship was so open that Rembrandt gave Geerty some jewels from his deceased wife. However, he did not intend to marry her. Because of a clause in the will, he would lose a large part of his inheritance if he remarried.

mounting argument

In 1649, Gerty sued Rembrandt. I felt that he made a promise to marry and did not keep it. The love-breaking that occurred sometime around that time may also be related to the arrival of a new nanny: Hendrickje Stoffels. The judge also stated that Rembrandt was under no obligation to marry Geertje, but had to pay her alimony. Instead, Rembrandt came up with something else…

Conviction in prison

Rembrandt’s anger was high, and he also produced much less art during this period. A number of sources state that Geertje attempted to exchange or sell Rembrandt’s dead wife’s jewels, which further aggravated the relationship between the two. In 1650, through Rembrandt’s actions, Geertje was sentenced to a chastening house. He managed this conviction with the help of her brother and cousin, who were her guardians at the time. The trio asked the neighbors to give false testimony about Geertje. Thus, she was sentenced to twelve years in a cobweb.

Women’s Prison in Groeneweg Quality | Photo: Samh inv. No. 72518

Spider’s house in Gouda

Gertie was stuck in Spinhuis in Gouda for five years. Spinhuis was a prison and re-education center for women. Women had to do forced labor under very poor conditions, especially sewing and spinning. During her stay, Rembrandt wrote letters to the institution to prevent Geertje’s earlier release. In 1955, a friend of Gerty’s managed to get her out early. Geertje wanted to sue Rembrandt because she had been wrongfully imprisoned. Rembrandt tried to blame her brother. He even arrested this person because of this. However, Geertje died shortly after her release, bringing the case to an end. famous book Painter’s love Written by Simon van der Vlogt It is about the life of Geertje Dirks.

Nanny 2: Hendrikje Stoffels

According to some sources, Hendrickje is the reason why the love affair with Geertje came to an abrupt end at that time. The 23-year-old maid came into the house in 1647 to take care of Rembrandt’s son. Soon she had a love affair with Rembrandt, who was twenty years her senior. Hendrikje was summoned several times before a church council. She had had a sexual relationship with Rembrandt, but was not married and thus lived in sin. This mattered less to Rembrandt, since he was not very religious. Hendrikje is accused of “adultery”.

Statue of Hendrickje Stoffels in her hometown of Bredevoort | Image: Google Maps

Hendrick’s death

In 1654, Hendrik gave birth to a daughter, Cornelia, whose father was Rembrandt. The couple never married. Meanwhile, the inheritance clause had been resolved, but nevertheless Rembrandt never wanted to enter into marriage obligations again. Hendrikje stood by Rembrandt despite all the debts and lawsuits pending in his later life. She intervened in his finances and tried to restore his career. Hendrikje died on 24 July 1663, possibly as a result of the plague.

Sources Geertje Dircx: Historiek.net, Huygens Women’s Lexicon Institute
Sources: Hendrickje Stoffels: ONH
Other: A Rembrandt Biography by NLKUNST

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