Saskia van Uylenburgh was born in 1612 the youngest in a family of 9 children. Her family was wealthy and her father served as burgomaster (mayor) in Leeuwarden in Friesland. Unfortunately, she was orphaned at an early age after the death of both her parents. She was sent to live with her older sister Hiskje and her husband Gerard van Loo for the remainder of her youth. In 1631 Saskia traveled to Amsterdam to stay at the house of her cousin Hendrick van Uylenburgh. Hendrick was a failed artist who became an art dealer. Hendrick employed Rembrandt, who was staying at the house of Hendrick, his friend, at the time of Saskia’s arrival. Shortly after their meeting, he painted her portrait in 1632. They embarked upon a close friendship, which later became a courtship in 1633 when they got engaged. Saskia and Rembrandt waited until she became of age, and married in 1634 at St. Annaparochie church. Rembrandt was socially below Saskia, and the match was indubitably good for his career as he began to run in wealthier circles, but records show that it was a love match as well.
Saskia van Uylenburgh was often posing for Rembrandt, who painted her in many different outfits and scenarios. After their marriage they eventually moved into their own house in 1635 in Nieuwe Doelenstraat, in the center of Amsterdam. In 1639 they moved again to a house, now the Rembrandt House Museum, in Jodenbreestraat. The couple had 4 children, 3 of whom sadly died shortly after birth. Titus, their last son, born in 1641, lived to adulthood. Saskia died in 1642, probably from tuberculosis.
- Hurll, Estelle M. “Portrait of Saksia,” Grande Arte. Accessed October 13, 2016. http://grandearte.net/rembrandt/portrait-saskia
- “Rembrandt, Self-Portrait with Saskia,” Khan Academy. Accessed October 13, 2016. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/monarchy-enlightenment/baroque-art1/holland/a/rembrandt-self-portrait-with-saskia
- “Biography,” Rembrandt The Complete Works. Accessed October 13, 2016. http://www.rembrandtonline.org/biography.html