Vampires before Dracula

In case you didn’t know, Bram Stoker didn’t invent vampires. No, neither did John Polidori, who wrote “The Vampyre,” the great-granddaddy of all vampire fiction. Vlad the Impaler certainly did exist, and by many accounts he was a monster. But he wasn’t a vampire. Nor was Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who bathed in the blood of virgins in an attempt to keep her youth. So who were the first vampires?

Rembrandt: the king of drypoint

Few people realize that during his own lifetime, Rembrandt was equally — if not more — known for his printmaking. There are about 300 paintings attributed to the artist. He also made 290 plates for printmaking, and each of those was used to make “scores, even hundreds” of impressions of each.

Rembrandt: The selfie-made man

perhaps no one pioneered the selfie quite like Rembrandt van Rijn, the most famous of the class of painters known as the “Old Masters.” Over his career from the early 1620s to his death in 1669, he is known to have created more than 90 self-portraits. These include full-size paintings, sketches, etchings and several cameo appearances in many of his famous works.

So what gives? Was Rembrandt simply smitten with himself? Or was he using himself as a character study?