8 Epic Etchings by Rembrandt

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Rembrandt is known wide and far as one of the world's greatest artists. His incredible etchings prove this position quite well.

Etchings are a unique art form involving the careful use of metallic plates and acid to produce replicable images with ink.

Although simple prints can be done by such means, the etchings of artists such as Rembrandt take the art form much further - delivering full, detailed imagery over and over again before reducing the utility of the plate.

The Rest on The Flight into Egypt (circa 1626)

“Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world only, our own, we see that world multiply itself and we have at our disposal as many worlds as there are original artists" - Marcel Proust


The process of creating etchings boils down to scraping in a design through a layer of wax on a metal plate and then submerging the plate in an appropriate acid to "bite" it wherever the wax has been removed.

Once the above has been done, all that's left is to apply ink to the plate's surface and press it against a soft piece of paper - transferring the design.

Pharisees in the Temple (1648)

“Without atmosphere a painting is nothing.”― Rembrandt


Etching proved an invaluable intermediary between the disciplines of drawing and engraving; an artist didn't need to learn new skills too far-removed from the familiar techniques involved in drawing to create beautiful etchings.

Rembrandt's early etchings rendered images with a noisy sort of busyness of lines.

The Monk in the Cornfield ( circa 1646)

As his technique matured, he came to incorporate drypoint techniques, among others, to achieve more stunning results.

Christ Preaching (The Hundred Guilder Print). (circa 1646-1650)

One thing's for sure, he loved etchings. He even had a sizeable collection of his own from a number of prominent artists of his time. Rembrandt the collector...

Cottages beside a Canal (circa 1645) Jan Asselijn, painter (circa 1647) The Hog (1643) The Spanish Gipsy ("Preciosa") (circa 1642)

Read our article on the art of Carl Spitzweg...

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