The powerful medium of etching is the focus of a new exhibition at the Museum this fall. The Age of Rembrandt: Etchings from Hollandís Golden Century, opening October 13, 2001 will feature forty nine works by Rembrandt and other Dutch artists who produced etchings during one of the most creative periods in the mediumís history. The works in the exhibition are drawn from the Museumís own collection with the addition of prints borrowed from local collectors.
This is a unique opportunity for our community to see first-hand the work of one of the greatest masters of all-time. We are grateful to the local collectors who have graciously made available these fine prints for the public to enjoy, says the Museumís executive director Don Bacigalupi.
This exhibition allows visitors to examine works by Rembrandt alongside those of his students, the most important of whom was Ferdinand Bol. Other important artists known predominantly as painters, Jacob van Ruisdael and Adriaen van Ostade, will figure prominently as well. By presenting a cross-section of subject matter including portraiture, landscapes, still-lifes, and Biblical and genre scenes, the exhibition offers glimpses into the issues and interests that preoccupied inhabitants of the prosperous Dutch Republic during the seventeenth century.
Due to the extreme fragility of these etchings and their sensitivity to light, these works on paper cannot be exhibited very often or for very long periods of time. It is a privilege to be able to exhibit these rarely seen works from our own collection, some never before on display, alongside noteworthy examples of seventeenth-century Dutch etchings lent by members of the community, says the exhibitionís curator Steven Kern.
The Age of Rembrandt reveals the great masterís role in expanding the scope of etching, which rose in popularity among artists and subsequently collectors in the early part of the century. Although etching originated in the sixteenth century, engraving still dominated printmaking in the late 1620s when Rembrandt first experimented with the medium. He found tremendous expressive possibilities in etching, and quickly became as famous for his printed images as for his painted ones.
Most importantly for Rembrandt, a consummate draftsman, was the direct relationship between etching and drawing. This concern is readily apparent in his Self-Portrait, Etching at a Window (1648), featured in the exhibition, where Rembrandt captures himself interrupted in his work. The technique preserved both the spontaneity and control that characterize the touch of the artist. In addition, the variety of tone and contrast that etching enabled led to prints that challenged drawings in both format and impact.
Rembrandt produced a body of some three hundred prints and encouraged his many pupils to take up the etcherís needle. This selection of etchings from Hollandís Golden Century explores the early evolution of the medium as practiced by some of Europeís greatest masters.
Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669)
The Three Trees, 1643
Etching, drypoint, and burin
Private Collection, San Diego