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It's Rembrandt's birthday; Google Doodle spotlights artist's self-portrait

Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn was born on this day in 1606 in Leiden in what is now the Netherlands. A prolific artist, he created many self-portraits during his career -- one of which serves as the inspiration for Monday's Google Doodle birthday tribute.

This particular self-portrait, which dates from 1659, resides at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The oil painting was formerly part of the collection of Andrew W. Mellon, the businessman who once served as secretary of the Treasury. The work stands a little less than 3 feet tall and depicts the artist when he was 53 years old -- an old man for the era.

The National Gallery says that Rembrandt created the painting at a time when he had "suffered financial failure after many years of success." His pose was inspired by "Raphael’s famous portrait of Balthasar Castiglione that he saw at an auction in Amsterdam in 1639."

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The painting was cleaned in 1992, according to the National Gallery: "Thick layers of discolored varnish had given the portrait a heavy, brooding quality, but when the varnish was removed during restoration, the rich range of pinks and other flesh tones on his face immediately improved our reading of Rembrandt's expression."

Rembrandt died in 1669 in Amsterdam.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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