Nearly forty years have elapsed since the most important drawings by Rembrandt and his circle owned by the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich were last united at one exhibition. The Munich works are joined by selected Rembrandt drawings from major collections in Europe and abroad: the Amsterdam Museum het Rembrandthuis and the Rijksprentenkabinet; the Dresden Kupferstich-Kabinett; the Groningen Gronings Museum and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Throughout his career, Rembrandt’s work fascinated both connoisseurs and
fellow painters alike. This is just as true of his drawings as it is of his
paintings. Viewed today, Rembrandt’s drawings have lost nothing of their
spontaneity, freshness and originality. Revealing Rembrandt’s inexhaustible
resourcefulness in experimenting with both medium and technique, they record the
creative process step by step with an immediacy surpassing even that of the
Rembrandt is represented in the exhibition by early drawings from his Leiden
period and by late works, accompanied by the work of pupils and followers. The
drawings are thematically grouped; Rembrandt himself filed away his drawings for
safekeeping by subject matter.
The artist in his workshop gives a glimpse into how the workshop operated (nude models, studies of his wife Saskia and other women). Genre scenes and scenes from everyday life capture fleeting impressions of figures and situations that caught the master’s painterly eye. An important part of the exhibition is linked with the Decoration of the Amsterdam Town Hall, represented by a preliminary drawing for the monumental Rembrandt painting of The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis and designs in large formats for the paintings by Ferdinand Bol. The group comprising the largest number of works deals with Biblical representations; here Rembrandt’s strikingly original approach to interpreting passages from the Bible comes into full play. The group of drawings shown under the heading of Exotics and costumed figures attests to the influences exerted on Rembrandt and his circle by the work of earlier artists and the theatre of the day. The chiaroscuro drawings by Rembrandt and his circle are works which, due to their painterly qualities, became coveted collector’s items in the 18th century.
Finally, the section on Copies of drawings shows Rembrandt setting a shining
example to a host of pupils as a dedicated ‘educator’.
Rembrandt auf Papier: Werk und Wirkung
Thea Vignau-Wilberg, with a contribution by Peter Schatborn
Catalogue of an exhibition held in 2001-02 in Munich (Alte Pinakothek) and in 2002 in Amsterdam (Rembrandthuis)
Münich (Hirmer) 2001
ISBN 3-7774-9150-0 (paperbound)
Introductory essays trace the history of
the Munich Rembrandt collection, discuss Rembrandt’s technique as a draughtsman
and go into special aspects of the Munich Rembrandt Complex.