Rembrandt: Complete Etchings

Biblical Themes

The Bible was Rembrandt's most important source of inspiration. Here he was following in the footsteps of illustrious  predecessors like Albrecht Durer and Lucas van Leyden, print artists far whom Rembrandt had boundless admiration. He  owned a great many prints by both these artists. Rembrandt's biblical print, particularly those with a New Testament subject,  represent the pinnacle of his achievement. One of his best-known biblical prints is undoubtedly the Hundred-Guilder Print, a  monumental etching on which he worked at intervals between 1643 and 1649. The subject is taken from Chapter 19 of  the Gospel According to St Matthew. From the point of view of technique, the print is unusual in the immense variation in the use  of line, the subtle hatching and the combination of the etching technique with drypoint and burin, resulting in an unparalleled  chiaroscuro. No other print by Rembrandt has such a tremendous painterly quality as this one. As for as portraying human  emotions is concerned, The Hundred-Guilder Print can be regarded as a showcase of Rembrandt's mastery. The expressions on  the faces of the people run the gamut of feelings from disbelief, horror and apathy to faith, astonishment and sheer rapture. The
sixteen-fifties are sometimes referred to as Rembrandt's experimental phase. During this crucial stage in his graphic development  he explored the technical possibilities of the etching process and experimented with printing techniques, using surface tone and  exotic papers. The primary purpose of all these experiments was to increase the tonality of his work. In this period he produced The Three Crosses and Christ Presented to the People. They are the high points of Rembrandt's graphic oeuvre. Both prints have been drawn entirely in drypoint, exploiting to the full the expressive possibilities of the technique. The plates were subjected to rigorous reworking in later states.

self portraits and family members
genre scenes
single figures and portraits
biblical themes