Onno Blom / Onno Blom – Young Rembrandt

Onno Blom – Young Rembrandt

Onno Blom – Young Rembrandt

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  • Pushkin Press (United Kingdom, Australia, New-Zealand)


Read our sample translation of Young Rembrandt 


About the book

Rembrandt’s life has always been an enigma. How did a miller’s son from a provincial Dutch town become the greatest artist in the world? With his formative years shrouded in mystery, the only remaining evidence of Rembrandt’s life as a young man is his work.

Deeply rooted in the turbulent changes that his hometown was undergoing, Rembrandt’s early paintings tell a fascinating story of artistic evolution against the backdrop of the widening horizons of Leiden’s cultural and commercial life during the Dutch Golden Age. Leiden’s fortune facilitated Rembrandt’s. But who was that young man inventing himself as the city around him grew and prospered? How did Rembrandt become Rembrandt?

To find out, Onno Blom immersed himself in the world, the country, the city and the house in which Rembrandt was born in 1606 and where he spent the first twenty-five years of his life. The result is a fascinating portrait of the artist as a young man, rich in local and biographical detail, and restless in its efforts to seek out the roots of his genius.

‘Compellingly written.’ Nederlands Dagblad

‘A captivating portrait of an artist as a young man and the city of Leiden as protagonist. It testifies to a great historical imagination.’ **** De Standaard

‘There’s still a lot we don’t know about the first 25 years of the painter’s life. Blom nimbly weaves the limited biographical details with chunks of local history and a hefty dose of hypotheses. He makes optimum use of the space to make his vision of the artist’s development believable. As we already knew from Wolkers biography, this biographer possesses a graceful pen. In his hands Rembrandt’s early years become a lively quest and deep psychological study in one.’ HP/De Tijd

‘Young Rembrandt bursts with vivid details and juicy anecdotes; great research.’ Trouw

‘In Young Rembrandt a Rembrandt emerges who became a true artist via an unconventional path, though Blom admits the painter will always have something enigmatic about him, no matter how close he may try to get.’ Vrij Nederland

‘It’s a book that makes the young Rembrandt more tangible without lapsing into fiction, a book for admirers in the making and all others who can’t get enough of Rembrandt.’ Tertio

‘As the author of two big books on Rembrandt and a number of small ones, I nonetheless find myself wishing to be able to delve more deeply into various aspects of his work and life. That starts with his early life in Leiden, his family, his school, local lore, the people who encouraged him and bought his earliest paintings and etchings. Because the documentary evidence is so sparse, it takes intimate familiarity with the Leiden surroundings, a good historical imagination and a certain literary daringness to do justice to this important theme. So I was delighted to hear that Onno Blom, who is richly endowed with all three prerequisites, is taking on the job. I am looking forward eagerly to a book that will evoke Rembrandt’s beginnings in full color.’ Gary D. Schwartz, author of Rembrandt's Universe

‘I know Blom to be an ambitious researcher and a gifted writer. His way with words, his experience as a biographer and his understanding of art and the city of Leiden make him the ideal candidate to write the biography of the young Rembrandt. I declare myself willing to advise him on his subject matter where appropriate, considering my long experience with Rembrandt's artistic career and oeuvre.'
Prf. Ernst van de Wetering, Rembrandt Research Project


Onno Blom (b. 1969) graduated cum laude in Dutch literature and Cultural Studies. He is a writer, journalist, columnist for de Volkskrant and literary critic for de Nieuwsshow on Radio 1. His previous books include His Book of Hours (about Harry Mulisch), The Mythological Creature Named Komrij, That’ll Do (about Jan Wolker’s last year) and, most recently, the critically acclaimed national bestseller Death’s Scar: The Jan Wolkers Biography in 2017.



© Stephan Vanfleteren

Additional book information

  • History, Art
  • ISBN 9789403167503
  • Number of pages: 264
  • World rights: De Bezige Bij
  • Price: €29,99
  • English sample available