CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Rembrandt’s Christmas

Exhibition: 11 October 2005 - 19 February 2006


Charrington Print Room

From the museum website

The complete, very informative handout

The latest in a series of exhibitions allied to a conservation programme of the Fitzwilliam’s outstanding collection of Rembrandt prints. Rembrandt’s etchings of the Christmas story range from the dramatic Angel appearing to the Shepherds of 1634 to intimate scenes of Christ’s nativity and childhood, apparently made as part of a planned series in 1654. Many of the images were conceived as nocturnes, and the display of multiple impressions from each plate shows the subtle variation of tonal effects achieved by using different papers and inking. Also included are prints by Rembrandt and his contemporaries illustrating traditional celebrations of the feast of the three kings at Epiphany.

The conservation programme involves the removal of the prints from the mounts that they were given in the nineteenth century, when they were taken out of albums. This allows a study of the paper that contributes to an understanding of the circumstances in which Rembrandt’s plates were printed. A fuller analysis with x-radiography awaits the eventual conservation of the entire Rembrandt collection, but in the meantime, these handlists reveal what has been found so far.