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Sunday, July 18, 2021

My Art History: Rembrandt van Rijn

Some Self-Portraits by Rembrandt
(Scientific American, September 1973 issue)

When I think of Rembrandt (1606-1669), I think of his self-portraits.  An artist who suffered periods of impoverishment, he was his cheapest model.  As a young painter, I was intrigued by an article I read in Scientific American that featured a page of his self-portraits.   And of course, I admired his other paintings.  But in the end, what really captured me were his etchings—so much so that in high school I bought a book that had them all and even included large fold-outs.

Although Rembrandt made 31 self-portraits as etchings, his landscape etchings hold the most interest for me.  Masterful in their use of value, design and drawing, they are worth studying.  For example, isn't this a wonderful landscape:

Landscape with a Hay Barn and a Flock of Sheep, 1652
6.8” x 3.2”

and this one:

The Omval, 1645
8.9” x 7.3”

But I also find his allegorical or religious etchings useful for study, too.  Look how the dramatic lighting supports the design in this one: 

The Adoration of the Shepherds: a Night Piece, circa 1652
7.7” x 19.8”
British Museum

Somehow over the years, that book of etchings vanished.  I miss it.  I may have to buy another.


René PleinAir said...

They are quiet good available in The Netherlands.

PM. me if I'll give you a hand.

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thank you, René! I will take a look.