Thursday, February 23, 2012
From February 19 through May 28, 2012, The Cleveland Museum of Art is showing two parallel exhibitions about the work of Rembrandt yan Rijn: "Rembrandt in America" and "Rembrandt Prints from The Morgan Library & Museum."
The close relation between both, offers the chance for the visitor to better apprehend the facets of Rembrandt, not only as an excellent painter but also as a skilled draughstman and printmaker.
The Rembrandt in America exhibition takes place at the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall and shows 30 works by Rembrandt, some of them autograph and others thought to be by the artist when they entered American collections but whose attributions can no longer be maintained, and over 20 works by other artists.
In 2006, several exhibitions worldwide celebrated the 400 years of Rembrandt's birth, nonetheless Rembrandt in America brings an indepth perspective about his career as a painter, as well as information about his studio, a broader network of adapters, followers, and copyists.
The public is invited to examine the gradual opinions and methods of scholars and collectors regarding what constituted an autograph Rembrandt painting over a period of more than a century, while at the same time earning skills in connoisseurship and opinions on authenticity thanks to the display of works in small groupings.
Rembrandt in America occurs at a time when scrutiny of “Rembrandt” versus “not Rembrandt” continues to trouble the discipline and affect the art market significantly. As the first major exhibition to take a broader look at the history of Rembrandt collecting and connoisseurship in America and namely in Cleveland, the show also addresses growing interest in the country’s collecting history.
The Cleveland Museum of Art owns four paintings associated with Rembrandt, two acquired in the early 20th century by the Cleveland collectors John L. Severance and Elisabeth Severance Prentiss and two others purchased by the museum in 1950 and 1967.
Each came to the museum attributed to Rembrandt, and all have subsequently been questioned to various degrees, with consensus yet to be reached.
The exhibition, well complemented by its accompanying catalogue, explores the often-controversial issues of collecting and connoisseurship, with a focus on individual paintings where these two related topics intersect.
Rembrandt in America is organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art, the North Carolina Museum of Art, where was on view between October 30, 2011 and January 22, 2012; Raleigh; and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, to where will travel from June 24 through September 16, 2012.
Showing a significant set of works from the Morgan Libray & Museum, considered the largest and finest collection of Rembrandt prints in USA holding nearly 500 impressions by the artist from circa 1626 to about 1661, during which time he executed some 290 plates, the Rembrandt Prints from The Morgan Library & Museum exhibition offers a broad overview about the artist's skills and creativity as printmaker.
Contrary to most of his predecessors, who sought to achieve a standardized representation of the printed image with little variation from impression to impression, Rembrandt was inclined to experiment. He would achieve an array of effects by varying the support and how the plate was inked, so that impressions from the same plate could differ noticeably.
The artist improvised as he worked on the plate, sometimes even changing the concept of the image, adding and subtracting lines, leaving traces of the previous work on the plate, while printing proofs at various stages of the work’s completion. He used different types of paper, and he also printed on vellum, as it is a non-absorbent support.
Rembrandt created tone not only by controlling the amount of ink left on the surface of the plate before printing, but by using drypoint as well, which produces broad, velvety lines. He also successfully integrated drypoint with etched and engraved work in one composition.
Rembrandt’s prints cover a wide range of subjects, including Old and New Testament narratives, landscapes, portraits and self-portraits, nudes, and scenes from daily life as it was common in his time. He sometimes returned to the same theme, allowing for a comparison of a subject executed decades apart, illustrating his artistic development and experimental advances.
The Rembrandt Prints from The Morgan Library & Museum exhibition is a collaboration between the Morgan Library & Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art.