‘This is the last outing the prints will have in our lifetimes’

by AryanArtnews
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The Rembrandt Imprint at Cork’s Crawford Art Gallery is one of Ireland’s most successful art events this year. The exhibition consists of 50 memorable and beautiful etchings and drypoint prints by 17th century Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn, loaned from the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University. They portray religious and domestic scenes and feature perhaps the most devastating landscapes and portraits, including those of the artist himself and his wife Saskia.

“The show far exceeded our expectations,” says Mary McCarthy, director of Crawford. “Since it opened on September 17, it has been seen by more than 100,000 people, and the catalog sells better than any publication it has ever created and is on track for its second run. It’s especially nice to see the audience come back to the show over and over again, regardless of age. But the work rewards that level of interest. It’s still unbelievable 400 years later. It’s holding up as well. “

Crawford was particularly fortunate to be able to hold a Rembrandt exhibition before the prints were returned to the Ashmorean Museum. It will be stored at the Ashmorean Museum for another 30 years. “This is probably the last outing of prints in our lives,” says McCarthy.

Gold Wayer. ‘© Ashmorian Museum, Oxford University

Asked to pick her favorite piece at the show, McCarthy chooses Goldwayer, a portrait of Rembrandt’s Jan Whitembogart, who acted as an intermediary for bankruptcy proceedings.

“I love the level of detail, from the weird look on Goldwayer’s face to the folds of clothes. In the background, there’s artwork that reminds me that artmaking was Rembrandt’s profession, but the table is gold. It looks like he’s trying to buckle with the weight of Wayer’s ledger. Rembrandt not only made a lot of money in his lifetime, but also remembered that he lost it. This image shows how he did. An insight into how you worked and lived. ”

Matches with Printed matter Rembrandt At the exhibition, Crawford arranged for historian Tom Spalding to give a lecture on the Dutch influence on the city of Cork in the 17th and 18th centuries. This was expressed in local architecture and culture.

“I learned a lot about the trade relationship between Cork and the Netherlands,” says McCarthy. “I cross drawbridge streets every day, but only when Tom toured the city center did I know that the name refers to the drawbridge that stood there at the time.”

Crawford also called on Cork’s printmakers to set up a print studio in parallel with the exhibition, an overview of printmaking techniques from Rembrandt’s time and an overview of later developed techniques such as lithographies and screen printing. I explained.

“I think it really helped people understand how much physical work Rembrandt spent on his etchings,” McCarthy says. “This is a very painstaking analog process, but Rembrandt is a master and his technique is still in use today.”

Dominique fee

Dominique Fee is one of the artists presenting his work at the print studio as part of the Rembrandt exhibition. “I was trained as a printer at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in the early 1990s and worked as a technician for many years at a cork printer, so I did a lot of etching myself, and I also taught it. I am.

  Dominique fee
Dominique fee

“I’m always familiar with Rembrandt’s prints, but most of what I’ve seen is a reproduction of a book, a high-resolution image that is often magnified to A4 size. Stepping into it is a very different experience. Let’s see how small it really is.

“It will take some time for me to get used to the lighting in the gallery, which needs to be dimmed to preserve the prints, but it was great to see Rembrandt’s work as he intended. What is surprising about using hard ground etching is that he is all cross-hatched because he was limited to drawing lines on the wax. Changes in pressure as can be obtained with other printmaking techniques. But I think I must have used some magnification because the details are so fine. “

Ratcatcher © Oxford University Ashmorian Museum
Ratcatcher © Oxford University Ashmorian Museum

Ratcatcher is one of Fee’s favorite prints at the show. “It’s a bit of storytelling. I love gestures and expressions, especially the expression of the head of the household, where he leaves the ratcatcher at the door. Again, the details Rembrandt achieves are incredible. What appeals to me is how he handled the different parts of the plate. In the background there is a thatched hut, smoke is coming out of the chimney, there are few contours, but the main character in the foreground is all perfect. He was a master of such techniques. “

John Ruffman

Rembrandt’s technique also fascinates Dr. John Ruffman, who teaches at UCD, which specializes in 17th-century Dutch art.

Associate Professor John Ruffman
Associate Professor John Ruffman

“In a sense, Rembrandt was a pretty crude printmaker,” he says. The three trees are probably my favorite image at the show. It’s one of his biggest prints and is very detailed, but the right edge is quite jagged. This indicates that he did not file the plate properly. Manage acid as he should have. But he was also very original. In this image, he uses etching, drypoint, and engraving all on one plate.

Three Trees © Oxford University Ashmorian Museum
Three Trees © Oxford University Ashmorian Museum

“The three trees are a beautiful and mysterious image. There is a theory that Rembrandt was originally working on another image of some religious scene on the plate, which seems to be a storm. I’ll explain the chunk of detail on the left that you can see. But the sun is shining. Some people work in fields that don’t seem to be very interested in shelters, so capture the moment before the storm. May be there.

“The three trees in the title are magnificent and majestic, and some interpret the image as referring to the three crosses and the crucifixion of Christ. But to be honest, it is. I don’t think it’s straightforward. Religious reading of the scene; Calvinists regarded the beauty of the landscape as evidence of God’s mercy, but in my opinion it is a reference to crucifixion. There’s a lot more going on in the field; there are all these numbers in the field, but there’s a fisherman and his wife, his Easel artist, and a couple hidden in the bush on the right. There is also. “

Lauman emphasizes the importance of Rembrandt’s prints in establishing his reputation. “Rembrandt may be best known for paintings such as the Watchman today, but in his own life, prints made his name. They are multiples and more affordable than paintings. The fact that it was a price ensured that they were more widely distributed. Even towards the end of his life, Rembrandt was based on his prints of two important paintings from an Italian collector. I received a request. ”

Laura Makena

At the invitation of Crawford, poet and writer Laura McKenna hosted a number of creative writing classes inspired by Rembrandt’s image. “I wasn’t very familiar with Rembrandt’s prints until now,” says McKenna, whose debut novel “Words to Shape My Name” was published by New Island this year.

Laura Makena.Photo: Claire Keo
Laura Makena.Photo: Claire Keo

“But it’s great to see them. They’re pretty surprised. In our class, how to first look at these characters in a portrait of Rembrandt and think about what they think and feel. And I went to the gallery itself and saw the image up close.

“By chance, someone recently gave me a magnifying glass, which gave me a better understanding of the images. I believe in how detailed Rembrandt invaded them, and through the process of scratching the lines all by hand. It’s hard. Most people in our class responded to the image by writing poetry instead of prose, which also seemed appropriate. “

  Descent from the cross. © Oxford University Ashmorian Museum
Descent from the cross. © Oxford University Ashmorian Museum

Through visiting the exhibition and studying the catalog, McKenna became familiar with the elements of Rembrandt’s print story. “One of my favorites is the descent from the cross. There is such a drama in it, with so much light, darkness and shadow. Again, there are so many details. With all these people, most of the people hugging Jesus seem to be crouching. There is a magnificent sense of silence throughout the scene. ”

McKenna suspects that the Rembrandt exhibition may have influenced her choice of the subject of the next novel she is working on all year round. “It’s probably not a coincidence that it’s about an artist,” she says. “It’s set in the 19th century, not the 17th century!”

The Rembrandt in Print will be held at the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork until January 9, 2022. More info / Virtual tour: crawfordartgallery.ie/rembrandt-in-print

The next major show at Crawford Art Gallery Saturation: Every day is transformed, “Incorporating aspects of street, music and fashion photography with elements of documentary tradition” contemporary color photography exhibition.

Saturated The work is curated by Ayesha Ahmad, Vittoria Colonna, Conor Clinch, Hazel Coonagh, Megan Doherty, Michael Hanna, Cáit Fahey, Audrey Gillespie, Dragana Jurišić, Ruth Medjber, Eva O’Leary, Pádraig Spillane and Niamh Swanton. William Rafan and Dawn Williams.

The exhibition will be held from January 29th to June 28th, 2022


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