Rembrandt in Print presents 50 of the finest works from the Ashmolean’s world-class collection of etchings and drypoints by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669).
Widely hailed as the greatest painter of the Dutch Golden Age, Rembrandt was also one of the most innovative and experimental printmakers of the 17th century. Displayed together for the first time, these works demonstrate Rembrandt’s inventive techniques and unrivalled ability for storytelling.
While most other contemporary printmakers only made prints of historical, religious or mythological subjects, Rembrandt delighted in presenting everyday scenes. The exhibition includes a range of these images such as intimate family studies, including a sheet probably depicting his wife Saskia lying ill in bed (c.1639), a selection of confronting life-drawn nudes and carefully detailed characters observed on the streets of his native Leiden, including peasants, Ringball players and the repugnant Rat Catcher (1632).
Rembrandt was extraordinary in creating prints not as identical multiples for reproducing other works but instead as artistic expressions by using existing printmaking techniques in his own innovative way. His prints range from drawing-like sketches to more pictorial, heavily-hatched compositions. While apparently quite diverse at first sight, all Rembrandt’s printed works are characterised by his talent for storytelling and his keen observational skills. His subjects are steeped in drama, adding atmosphere to views of the Dutch countryside or imbuing Biblical scenes with lively characters.
This exhibition has been organised by the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.