Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was born in 1606 and is considered one of the greatest artists in European history. He achieved early success as a portrait painter and is renowned for his self-portraits, which are characterised by their authenticity and complete absence of vanity. One of Rembrandt’s self-portraits (pictured) is held at Kenwood House, a former stately home in London.
Despite his success, Rembrandt suffered several personal tragedies during his life. His first three children died in infancy, and only his fourth child, a son named Titus, survived. His wife Saskia died not long after Titus's birth, most likely from tuberculosis, and Rembrandt documented her demise in a series of moving drawings.
Rembrandt had a habit of living beyond his means and was eventually forced to sell his art collections and affluent home in Amsterdam (now the Rembrandt House Museum) to avoid bankruptcy. He died within a year of his son in 1669.
Jacques Cousteau was a 20th century French pioneer of marine conservation who called himself an "oceanographic technician”. His passion for ocean exploration drove him to co-develop the first open-circuit underwater breathing set, called the aqua-lung, and he continued to improve this design, leading to the advanced scuba technology we use today.
In 1950, a year after retiring from the French Navy, Cousteau leased his famous research vessel, Calypso. Through the course of his life, he produced more than 120 television documentaries, wrote more than 50 books, and established his environmental protection foundation, The Cousteau Society. He died in 1997, aged 87.