The Rembrandt Palette

The Rembrandt Palette



The Rembrandt Palette



Rembrandt created his portraits with a small palette of colours dominated by dark earth tones and golden highlights.





Remember the number of pigments available to the 17th century artist were miniscule when compared to those available to the modern artist. Rembrandt was unusual in that he used around hundred, but less than 20 pigments have been detected in Vermeer’s oeuvre.




Portraits by Rembrandt have a special quality- the brilliant use of light to illumine faces, jewels and rich fabrics; the effective use of a limited palette, and the rich, dark, transparent backgrounds all set off the subjects of his portraiture in a way never seen before and often imitated afterwards. It has been said that a painter has to choose between putting the emphasis on brilliant colour or on the use of light and shade. As a portrait painter myself I had always gone for colour,but I went to an exhibition of Rembrandt’s paintings, and realized that nothing was more exciting than the way his faces were lit up in the surrounding liquid darkness, and so I set out to discover how Rembrandt got his effects.




Rembrandt’s Palette




He is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history and the most important in Dutch history.

  • Lead white
  • Ochres
  • Bone black
  • Vermillion
  • Siennas
  • Raw umber
  • Burnt umber
  • Lead-Tin Yellow
  • Cassel earth




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