Feature

Strokes of Genius: Rembrandt’s Prints and Drawings

The greatest of Rembrandt’s works go on display.

Museums around the world mounted Rembrandt shows this year, said Stephanie Dickey in Smithsonian. The 400th anniversary of the Dutch painter's birth was the perfect excuse to put together crowd-pleasing exhibitions. But 'œnone has proven more exciting or informative' than this collection of 170 prints from the National Gallery of Art's permanent collection. Before Rembrandt, prints were primarily reproductions of paintings. He was at the forefront of 'œa select group of painters who drew on the etching plate with all the expressive freedom of a sketch on paper.' Rembrandt obsessively reworked his prints, making copies of each successive state. This exhibition encourages visitors to 'œlook closely, preferably with a magnifying glass,' at the different versions. Some, like Christ Crucified Between the Two Thieves, are masterpieces in their own right.

This large work 'œpenetrates our souls as few works in the history of art do,' said Joanna Shaw-Eagle in The Washington Times. It's also a technical tour de force. Most printmakers rely on two methods: etching and engraving. An engraver makes an initial drawing on paper, then traces the image onto a copper printing plate. Etching uses chemicals to burn the image in. But in this case Rembrandt drew Christ's emaciated body directly onto the copper with a sharp, drypoint needle, producing a stippled, shimmering, otherworldly image. The National Gallery 'œowns one of the nation's great collections of Rembrandt graphics,' donated decades ago by Sears, Roebuck and Co. owner Lessing J. Rosenwald. This may be the best of the bunch.

The Washington Post

Christ Preaching

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