‘Rembrandt: The Consummate Etcher and Other 17th-Century Printmakers’ at Palitz Gallery
Celebration of Louise and Bernard Palitz and their association with the Syracuse University Art Galleries
Palitz Gallery presents “Rembrandt: The Consummate Etcher and Other 17th-Century Printmakers,” an exhibition containing 35 works, 12 of which are by Rembrandt, who is considered to be one of the most important figures in western art history. “Rembrandt: The Consummate Etcher” is rounded out by works from 16 of his contemporaries and has been arranged in thematic groups—landscapes, genre, portraits and religious subjects—so that visitors may discover the similarities and differences, as well as the technical achievements of these talented artists.
The exhibition runs through Nov. 14 and can be viewed Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Learn more about this show and others by visiting http://lubinhouse.syr.edu/. Call 212-826-0320 for more information. The gallery is located at the Joseph I. Lubin House, 11 East 61st Street in New York City.
In the mid-1980s, Louise and Bernard Palitz made their first gift to the Syracuse University Art Collection and over the next 25 years they became ardent supporters of Syracuse University and its arts programs. This exhibition celebrates their connoisseurship and generous enhancement of the SU Art Galleries and its programs.
The exhibition primarily reflects the holdings of the Syracuse University Art Collection and explores Rembrandt’s influence on the printmakers of his day.
Domenic Iacono, curator of “Rembrandt: The Consummate Etcher,” says Rembrandt’s etchings demonstrate the same genius, diversity of subjects and vitality as his paintings. “He often experimented with the medium and attempted to achieve surface characteristics that would enhance his images,” explains Iacono, director of Syracuse University Art Galleries. “If the desired effects were not achieved to his satisfaction, Rembrandt would continue to manipulate the plate to fit his needs.”
Rembrandt took full advantage of new tools of his day, including the prepared plate, which was treated like a piece of paper, allowing him the opportunity to draw his design directly on the plate with great freedom. Using this method Rembrandt created nearly 300 original etchings during his career.
Rembrandt, who was also very selective about the paper used for the editions of his prints, introduced more than technical innovation. The artist explored the personality and moods of his subjects.
“Early self-portraits show a study of facial expressions, including surprise, self-awareness and sorrow, that allow us insight into Rembrandt’s character,” says Iacono. Equally telling are the etchings of his wife, Saskia, whom the artist portrayed with sensitivity, especially during her illnesses. “These introspective images are similar in many ways to the pathos and truthfulness he developed in his etchings of religious and genre subjects.”
Notable works in this exhibition include “Self Portrait Drawing at a Window,” which may have been Rembrandt’s last self-portrait in print. “Self Portrait Drawing at a Window” appears to be the work of a confident Rembrandt, not overly distracted by financial or personal difficulties. There is also a spontaneous quality to this print; the artist interrupts his work and glances up momentarily engaging us with a pensive expression. Another of note is “Landscape with a cottage and a large tree.”
In his early landscapes, Rembrandt experimented with compositional techniques to unify foreground and background elements of the scene. In this etching he utilized a low horizon and left the sky above the distant town almost entirely devoid of detail while the left side of the image is filled with the cottage and tree. Rembrandt was familiar with Jan van de Velde’s attempts to create landscapes using similar compositional devices but determined that technical effects were also needed.