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Rembrandt was only twenty-five when he was asked to paint the portraits of the Amsterdam surgeons. The portrait was commissioned for the anatomy lesson given by Dr Nicolaes Tulp in January 1632. Rembrandt portrayed the surgeons in action, and they are all looking at different things. Dynamism is added to the scene by the great contrasts between light and dark. In this group portrait, the young painter displayed his legendary technique and his great talent for painting lifelike portraits.

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