CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Rembrandt, de etser

Rembrandt, the etcher Exhibition: 8 July - 3 September 2006

From the museum website

From 8 July to 3 September the Rembrandt House Museum is showing a selection of etchings by Rembrandt under the title Rembrandt the Etcher. In creating the exhibition the curators have selected some of the masterpieces from the museum’s own collection, augmented with rare works from the Rijksprentenkabinet (the national print collection) and private collections. The exhibition traces Rembrandt’s exploration of the possibilities of the etching technique. Visitors as it were look over the master’s shoulder and follow him step by step through the creative process. With more than a hundred highlights from the master’s print oeuvre, Rembrandt the Etcher shows us how Rembrandt used graphic media and what effects he could achieve with them.

It is, above all, in his etchings that Rembrandt’s spontaneous style of drawing is most effectively expressed. To get this spontaneity Rembrandt pushed the technique to its limits as no other artist has done. He experimented by making different impressions, adding something-or deliberately leaving something out. He created a distinction between dark and light areas by leaving his copper plates in the acid bath for longer so that some lines were more deeply bitten than others. Subtle hatching in the prints produced dramatic lighting effects. And he achieved a painterly quality in his etchings by combining the etching technique with the velvety lines of the drypoint.

Whereas in his paintings Rembrandt concentrated primarily on highly prestigious subjects such as stories from the Bible and history, in his prints he explored a much broader range of subjects and themes. As well as biblical and mythological intrigues, he also etched beggars and vagrants, nudes, self-portraits, landscapes and portraits of his contemporaries. Rembrandt’s etchings reveal his fascination with human emotions, with reactions to dramatic events. This comes very clearly to the fore in his etchings of biblical scenes like Christ Presented to the People and The Three Crosses. These two prints are high points in Rembrandt’s graphic oeuvre.

Related events

Rembrandt was born in Leiden in 1606. In that same year the house in Amsterdam in which he was to live during his heyday was being built. In 1906 plans were made to convert this very house into a museum. One hundred years later Holland celebrates Rembrandt’s 400th birthday. The share of the Rembrandt House in the celebrations consists of four major Rembrandt exhibitions:

Rembrandt and English etching (17 December 2005-12 March 2006)
Rembrandt: the quest of a genius (1 April-2 July 2006)
Rembrandt: the etcher
(8 July-3 September 2006)
Uylenburgh & son: art and commerce in Rembrandt’s time (16 September-10 December 2006)

Many paintings will return to the place where they were made four centuries ago to be shown at these four exhibitions.

Forms part of multi-museum manifestation Rembrandt 400.