Many of Rembrandt's paintings of the 1640s show the influence of classicism in style and spirit. A 1640 self-portrait (National Gallery, London), based on works by the Italian Renaissance artists Raphael and Titian, reflects his assimilation of classicism both in formal organization and in his expression of inner calm. In the Portrait of the Mennonite Preacher Anslo and His Wife (1641, Staatliche Museen, Berlin-Dahlem), quieter in feeling than his earlier work, the interplay between the figures is masterfully rendered; the preacher speaks, perhapsexplaining a biblical passage to his wife, who quietly listens. A number of Rembrandt's other works depict dialogues and, like this one, represent one specific moment. In the moving Supper at Emmaus (1648, Musйe du Louvre), Rembrandt's use of light immediately conveys the meaning of the scene.
His group portraiture continued to develop in richness and complexity. The so-called Night Watch-more accurately titled The Shooting Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq (1642, Rijksmuseum)-portrays the bustling activity of a military company, gathered behind its leaders, preparing for a parade or shooting contest. In departing from the customary static mode of painting rows of figures for the corporate portrait, Rembrandt achieved a powerful dramatic effect. Despite the popular myth that the painting was rejected by those who commissioned it, and led to a decline in Rembrandt's reputation and fortune, it was actually well received. Many of Rembrandt's landscapes in this middle period are romantic and based on his imagination rather than recording specific places. The inclusion of ancient ruins and rolling hills, not a part of the flat Dutch countryside, as in River Valley with Ruins (Staatliche Gemдldegalerie, Kassel), suggests a classical influence derived from Italy.
Rembrandt's greatest paintings were created during the last two decades of his life. Baroque drama, outward splendor, and superficial details no longer mattered to him. His self-portraits, portrayals of single figures and groups, and historical and religious works reveal a concern with mood and with spiritual qualities. His palette grew richly coloristic and his brushwork became increasingly bold; he built thick impastos that seem miraculously to float over the canvas. In Portrait of the Painter in Old Age (1669?, National Gallery, London), Rembrandt's features betray a slightly sarcastic mood. One of his finest single portraits (1654, Stichting Jan Six, Amsterdam) is that of Jan Six. Six, wearing a deeply colored red, gold, and gray costume, is shown putting on a glove. The portrait is painted in a semiabstract style that demonstrates Rembrandt's daring technical bravura. Six's quiet, meditative mood is expressed by the subtle play of light on his face. In such late biblical works as Potiphar's Wife Accusing Joseph (1655, Staatliche Museen, Berlin-Dahlem), and the very moving Return of the Prodigal Son (1669?, the Hermitage) Rembrandt concentrated on the inherent psychological drama rather than on the excitement of the narrative as he had in works of his early period. In general, after his early period, Rembrandt was not particularly interested in allegorical and mythological subjects.
For Rembrandt, drawing and etching were as much major vehicles of expression as painting. Some 1400 drawings, recording a wide range of outward and inner visions, are attributed to him, works mostly done for their own sake rather than as preparatory studies for paintings or prints. The majority of them are not signed, because they were made for his private use. Rembrandt's early drawings (of the 1630s) were frequently executed in black or red chalk; later his favorite medium became pen and ink on white paper, often in combination with brushwork, lending a tonal accent. In some drawings, such as The Finding of Moses (1635?, Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam), a few charged lines indicating three figures carry maximum expression. Other drawings were, in contrast, highly finished, such as The Eastern Gate at Rhenen (Oostpoort) (1648?, Musйe, Bayonne, France), which displays details of architecture and perspective. He made masterful drawings throughout the early as well as mature phases of his career. An example of an early work is Portrait of a Man in an Armchair, Seen Through a Frame (1634, private collection, New York City), done in chalk, considered Rembrandt's most finished portrait drawing. Superb later works are Nathan Admonishing David (1655-1656?, Metropolitan Museum), done with a reed pen, and a genre piece, A Woman Sleeping (Hendrickje?) (1655?, British Museum, London), a powerful brush drawing universally praised as one of his finest.
Rembrandt's etchings were internationally renowned even during his lifetime. He exploited the etching process for its unique potential, using scribbling strokes to produce extraordinarily expressive lines. In combination with etching he employed the drypoint needle, achieving special effects with the burr in his mature graphic work. Indeed, Rembrandt's most impressive etchings date from his mature period. They include the magnificent full-length portrait of Jan Six (1647, Bibliothиque Nationale, Paris), the famous Christ Healing the Sick, also known as the 100 Guilder Print (1642-1645?), the poetic landscape Three Trees (1643), and Christ Preaching, or La Petite Tombe (1652?), all in the British Museum.