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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Dutch artist of the Golden Age, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) is well known for his monumental paintings: portraits, allegorical and biblical scenes and much more. Rembrandt was an artist striving to paint pure emotion in all of his subjects. His masterful technique of light and color set new standards for the artists that came after him.
Most people, when they hear the name Rembrandt, think of his paintings “The Night Watch”, “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” and his many portraits and self portraits. What few people really know is the background behind Rembrandt’s artistry as a print maker. His prints carve a whole new perspective in the medium, taking his emotive charge to work with shades of light and darkness, something which is evident in his paintings, and adapting it to the black-and-white medium of prints and etchings. It’s called chiaroscuro, a technique developed and studied in the Renaissance as well as amongst the Dutch artists of the Golden Age.
Art historian Michiel Kersten has produced a concise and detailed study of Rembrandt’s printmaking skills. His book, Rembrandt Etchings: Looking at Rembrandt’s Prints, studies the art of printmaking and how Rembrandt made use of this medium to create some of his finest, though perhaps not best known, works. The book goes into great detail discussing the medium, the artist and the skills he developed in creating dramatic and emotionally powerful etchings and prints. The author parallels his dissertation of Rembrandt’s work in this medium with that of his painting career, eloquently pointing out that printmaking, for this artist, was like painting in black-and-white. A monumental and important study of Rembrandt’s etchings.