From Line into Image: Etchings by Rembrandt van Rijn
From Line into Image: Etchings by Rembrandt van Rijn features approximately eighty-six prints from Rembrandt's career of thirty years as an etcher, including examples of portraiture, stories from the Bible, genre, and landscapes. Several rare impressions such as the The Leper Lazarus Klep; Six's Bridge, Jupiter and Antiope, the Larger Plate, and The Rest on the Flight into Egypt: Lightly Etched are included in the exhibition. A special display presents the various etching techniques used, and will discuss print collecting history through collectors' marks.
Printmaking was for Rembrandt as fundamental a medium of artistic expression as painting or drawing. His pioneering spirit explored and expanded the limits of etching, and his brilliant achievements set the standards by which subsequent artists judged themselves. A gifted storyteller and interpreter of the human spirit, Rembrandt's epic stature is a result of his comprehension of and compassion for human emotions, and his prodigious ability to portray them graphically. In a country where artists specialized in a certain subject matter, Rembrandt stood apart in his curiosity for and his embrace of several subjects. In the stories from the Bible, Rembrandt discovered vehicles by which to describe great human dramas with all their moral import. In contrast to the large, popular market for his painted portraits, his etched portraits were drawn from his circle of friends and acquaintances. They are characterized by insights ranging from profound and intimate to lighthearted and allegorical.
His approach to landscape was twofold: Dutch in composing realistic views of the countryside that are pleasant and agreeable, and individual in his purely aesthetic interest in the aspects of the etched line. His early etchings are characterized by the drama and rhetoric of the Baroque style. As he matured and his mid-life fortunes changed, this style was replaced with a solemn and more empathetic tenor. He endeavored to describe the intangible, the interior and emotional life of his subjects. Rembrandt was ever keen to discover new methods of expressive potential in the medium of etching, and in the 1640s and 1650s began experimenting with different types of paper, inking methods, and the use of drypoint and burin, sometimes as a complement to etching and sometimes exclusively. In this way, he expanded the medium to achieve ever greater tonal effects and deeper shadows. This type of experimentation offered the potential that each impression of a print might be unique.