Rembrandt van Rijn, Experimental Printmaker

A Lecture by Alexandra Onuf

April 12, 2018, 7 pm – $10 per person

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Hundred Guilder Print, c.1649, etching, engraving and drypoint, state II of II (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Rembrandt (1606-1669) ranks among the greatest etchers of all time.  His experimental approach to the medium and novel techniques transformed the art of printmaking, allowing him to create entirely unprecedented visual effects.  He is famous for the way he deployed light and shadow, or chiaroscuro, to organize his compositions and to build up a tonal range never before achieved in print. Together with traditional etching, Rembrandt made frequent use of the drypoint technique, scratching directly into his copper plates to create rich, painterly lines and forms.  He often reworked his plates over and over, creating series of states in which we can see his images evolve before our eyes. He also experimented with printing his plates on a wide variety of papers, some imported from as far away as India and Japan, in order to achieve particular atmospheric and tonal effects.  In his most experimental prints, each impression is unique, totally realigning the traditional definition of printmaking as a medium that produces multiple identical images.  In this lecture, Professor Alexandra Onuf will explore some of Rembrandt’s most extraordinary prints and his innovative process in order to highlight the new freedom and artistry he brought to the art of printmaking.


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