Dutch take Rembrandt to heart in 400th anniversary celebrations

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Four hundred years ago today in the Dutch city of Leiden, one of the most important and versatile artists in the history of western European art was born. And such is the enduring appeal of Rembrandt van Rijn that he is attracting record numbers of visits to his native country.

Already Amsterdam has seen a blockbuster show comparing his works with those of Caravaggio. It attracted 200,000 people in its first two months. Visitors have also been enjoying Rembrandt-themed walking tours, performances, tours and, from today, Rembrandt, the Musical, at the Royal Carre Theatre, Amsterdam.

In the promotional blurb of the organisers of the official 400th anniversary celebrations: "In the museum, his paintings bring you closer to his work, but in Rembrandt, the Musical, you step into the master's life. "

There was certainly drama in the Dutch master's life. Three of his children and his wife Saskia died young. He was then rebuked by the Dutch Reformed Church for living in sin with his maid and he eventually went bankrupt. He died in 1669, aged 63, and was buried in an unmarked grave.