Sources and Inspiration in Rembrandt's Etchings

Sources and Inspiration in Rembrandt's Etchings,  an exhibition of 29 etchings by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) examines the great Dutch artist's study and assimilation of the work of Renaissance and Baroque masters. In addition, the exhibition explores Rembrandt's relationship to specific works and how they inspired his own interpretation of a subject.

In order to fully understand Rembrandt's etchings, it is essential to consider his experimentations with etched media and the formal sources that inspired his design and conception. Great as his achievements were, it was through the process of experimentation and assimilation that he became the greatest of all etchers. Even Rembrandt had to learn by copying; this was part of the usual education of an artist. However, he changed these protoptyes and filled them with his own spirit. He sought the conception, point of view or motif that would aid his own expression and extend his creative abilities. Unique to Rembrandt's character in this regard was the range of his studies—a curiosity that outdistanced that of his contemporaries in Holland. His broad knowledge of European art and his activity as a collector played a definitive role in his imaginative life as an artist. Photographs of the original works to which he referred are shown alongside the etchings.