When you visit Rembrandt in America, be sure not to miss the companion exhibition, Rembrandt Prints from The Morgan Library & Museum. It is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see prints that rarely go on public view. The Morgan Library & Museum contains the largest and finest collection of prints by Rembrandt van Rijn. The nearly 500 impressions survey the artist’s career as a printmaker from about 1626 to about 1661, during which time he executed some 300 plates.
Jane Glaubinger, Curator of Prints, worked for more than two years pulling the exhibition together and she says it was wonderful to survey more than 500 prints from her favorite printmaker of all time.
“I love Rembrandt because he was such an innovative printmaker. He was doing things with prints that no one else was doing during his time.”
Rembrandt was innovative because of the techniques he employed and how he showed the subjects he captured. He combined etching, drypoint and even did the fine details in engraving to change the way a print looked.
“While other printmakers wanted their impressions to look the same, he used techniques to make each impression look different. That was one of the things he loved about printmaking,” Glaubinger said. “It was the only medium where you could take the matrix and make each impression look different.”
An example of his innovation can be found in The Entombment, about 1654. He used a mixture of etching, drypoint, and engraving to fill the background with a dense web of hatching, shrouding the space in an ominous gloom. There are three impressions of this print on view and for each impression he inked and wiped the plate differently to achieve a variety of effects. It is one of 60 prints in the free exhibition.
Rembrandt also experimented with different types of paper and velum (animal skin). Most artists in his native Holland printed on ivory, Dutch paper but Rembrandt began using Japanese paper that was being brought to Amsterdam by the Dutch East India Company. He liked that the Japanese paper had a colored tone – sometimes beige, sometimes brown. Several prints on view are printed on Japanese paper.
Glaubinger presents an exhibition that offers a survey of Rembrandt’s development as a printmaker and showcases the variety of subjects he worked with – landscapes, religious subjects, everyday people and animals.
The show is a sort of a homecoming for the artist. During World War II, all of the Rembrandt prints from the Morgan Library & Museum were stored at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College. Louise Richards, Glaubinger’s predecessor at the museum, shared this information.
“I wanted to pick the crème de la crème of the Rembrandt prints and I am pleased to tell you I did,” “ Glaubinger said.
Hear Glaubinger talk more about the exhibition in a free lecture on Wednesday, April 4 sponsored by the Print Club of Cleveland. Details @ http://goo.gl/mnRlt See Rembrandt Prints from The Morgan Library & Museum in the Prints and Drawings gallery through May 28.