4 October 2019 to 5 January 2020
Marking the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt van Rijn’s (1606-1669) death, Rembrandt in Print presents 50 of the finest works from the Ashmolean Museum’s world-class collection of prints by the Dutch master.
Widely hailed as the greatest painter of the Dutch Golden Age, Rembrandt was also one of the most innovative and experimental printmakers of all time. On a national tour that displays these prints together for the first time, the works in this exhibition 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 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 a rat catcher.
Rembrandt was extraordinary in creating prints not only as multiples for commercial distribution, but also as artistic expressions that use existing printmaking techniques in innovative ways. His prints range from squiggly, drawing-like sketches to more pictorial, heavily-hatched compositions. While diverse in subject matter, all of 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.
Exhibition highlights include a selection of intense self-portraits with their penetrating gaze, including one of his earliest dating from 1630 (pictured above). Rembrandt’s only still-life print The Shell (1650) and iconic works such as The Three Trees (1643) and The Windmill (1641). Perhaps the most remarkable print on display is Christ Presented to the People (Ecce Homo) (1655), considered to be the pinnacle of Rembrandt’s printmaking. Created solely in drypoint it is a true feat of printmaking, and was printed on rare Japanese paper which Rembrandt must have sourced via the Dutch East India Company who had exclusive access to Japan through the harbour in Nagasaki.
Holburne Director Chris Stephens says “For me, Rembrandt’s etchings form one of the pinnacles of Western Art, so I am delighted to be working with the Ashmolean to bring these masterpieces to the Holburne.”
This exhibition has been organised by the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The Holburne Museum’s mission statement is ‘Changing Lives Through Art’, signalling its commitment to opening up the enjoyment of art to people of all ages and from every walk of life. The Holburne was founded in 1882 with the gift of Sir William Holburne’s collection of 16th and 17th century Italian and Dutch paintings, silver, sculpture, furniture, porcelain and diverse objets d’art of national and international significance. That founding gift has been augmented with a collection of 18th century paintings by such artists as Gainsborough, Lawrence, Ramsay, Stubbs and Zoffany. Set within the historic Sydney Pleasure Gardens, the Museum reopened in May 2011 after ambitious renovations and with a new, award-winning extension by Eric Parry Architects. The Holburne has since secured a national reputation as an outstanding museum which holds critically acclaimed exhibitions. Its programme of exhibitions, commissions and events sets out to bring to Bath great art of all periods and from around the world, seeking to set the art of the past in dialogue with contemporary practice in exciting and dynamic new ways.
About the Ashmolean
The Ashmolean is the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology, founded in 1683. The world famous collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art, telling human stories across cultures and across time. The museum’s collections are extraordinarily diverse, representing most of the world’s great civilisations, with objects dating from 500,000 BC to the present day. Among many riches we have the world’s greatest collection of Raphael drawings, the most important collection of Egyptian pre-Dynastic sculpture and ceramics outside Cairo, the only great Minoan collection in Britain, outstanding Anglo-Saxon treasures, and the foremost collection of modern Chinese painting in the western world. Visit: www.ashmolean.org/press | Twitter: @AshmoleanMuseum
About the exhibition tour
Rembrandt in Print has been curated by An Van Camp, Christopher Brown Assistant Keeper of Northern European Art at the Ashmolean Museum. Rembrandt in Print has been organised to coincide with 2019’s ‘Year of Rembrandt’ marking 350 years since the artist’s death in 1669. This touring exhibition begins at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in the Wirral where the exhibition will be on display from 1 June – 15 September. The tour continues to the Holburne Museum in Bath from 4 October – 5 January 2020 before moving onto the North Hertfordshire Museum, Hitchin from 18 January – 19 April 2020. Finally, the exhibition tour will finish at the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork from 22 May – 23 August 2020.