The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
One was the son of a miller, the other of a hatmaker. Born just months apart, they grew up in Leiden during the early years of the newly formed Dutch Republic. Both became painters and for several years they shared a studio in their native city. Influenced by a group of Dutch artists who had studied Carravaggio's work in Italy, the two young men adapted the new techniques for handling light and shadow into what has become the signature term for Dutch 17th-century painting, chiaroscuro. Of the two, Rembrandt, the miller's son, is the more famous today. But Jan Lievens (1607-1674), the hatmaker's son, though younger by a year, was the more precocious and for a time more well-known. After beginning the serious study of art at age 8, studying both in Leiden and in Amsterdam (with Rembrandt's future teacher Pieter Lastman), Lievens set up as an independent artist in his native city at age 13. Rembrandt, on the other hand, did not begin the serious study of art until he was 14 or 15. Works from the early studio years when they worked together are often difficult to attribute to one or the other with certainty. The difficulties are compounded by the fact that they sometimes worked on each other's canvases, adding touches here and there as deemed necessary.
Southgate MT. Old Woman Reading. JAMA. 2006;295(18):2113. doi:10.1001/jama.295.18.2113