In the second half of the Rijksmuseum's bicentenary year the theme of
the major project 'Rembrandt in various states' is Rembrandt as an
etcher. Two successive exhibitions organised jointly with the British
Museum in London feature the different states of Rembrandt's
magnificent etchings. The first part, with the early works up to c. 1642,
shows how he developed as en etcher. They will be on view at the
Rijksmuseum's Print Room from 22 July 2000. The later, more mature
and dramatic work can be seen from 14 October 2000.
Both museums have excellent collections, making it possible to present
the crème de la crème: gaps in the London collection can be filled from
Amsterdam and vice versa. The exhibition will also include splendid
drawings and oil sketches by Rembrandt that relate directly to the
etchings on show.
Rembrandt was the first artist to exploit fully the technique of etching.
Lines drawn in a layer of wax on a copper plate are etched in an acid
bath, then inked and printed. By varying the duration of the etching
process and the type of inking, different results can be obtained.
Rembrandt also made use of drypoint, which involved drawing directly on
the plate and gave the lines in the earliest impressions a soft, warm tone.
He also printed on lightly tinted Japanese paper, which produced a
special effect. Experimentation with the technique and the materials is an
important aspect of the oeuvre, its other features being strong
characterisation and a fine feeling for light and dark.
The collections of Rembrandt etchings in the print rooms in Amsterdam
and London are among the finest in the world. Two hundred of the best
and most interesting prints from both collections will give a complete
picture of Rembrandt's working methods, as demonstrated by
impressions of the same etching at different stages of the process.
A number of etching plates will be shown, followed by drawings,
including loans from collections here and abroad, that served as studies
for the prints. Early, often experimental impressions were made before
an edition of the final version was printed. The exhibition includes several
of these remarkable series of the same print showing how it developed.
Recent research into the paper Rembrandt used and the watermarks
also receives attention. It has added greatly to our knowledge of how
printing was done in his studio.