Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, reassesses the life and work of Rembrandt.
2006 saw the 400th anniversary of the artist's birth. In light of this, three contemporary artists - Hughie O'Donoghue, Maggi Hambling and Tai-Shan Schierenberg - reflect on their favourite Rembrandt painting.
Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor visits Amsterdam to reassess the qualities that make Rembrandt's subjects reach out to us today as long queues for exhibitions celebrating the 400th anniversary of the artist's birth snake round the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, evidence of the powerful hold his work continues to have.
The house where Rembrandt lived in Amsterdam prompts reflections on how his subjects were based on close observation, notably in his self-portraits and in the pictures peopled by those he knew, and particularly the women he loved.
The large-scale classical and Biblical scenes in the Rijksmuseum dazzle with their technical brilliance and mastery of paint, while the smaller drawings and etchings convey Rembrandt's intimate observation of the human qualities of tenderness and vulnerability.
These works soon made their way through the world and MacGregor follows their journey to British collections and to their continuing impact on artists working today.