Prints were among the most extensively collected and circulated works of art produced during the Dutch Golden Age. They were created in vast numbers by professional printmakers as well as painters who sought to expand their public and extend their talents into the realm of black and white. Producing nearly 300 prints over the course of his lifetime, Rembrandt van Rijn was arguably the most influential graphic artist of his generation. He pushed etching to its limits, using it not simply as a means for reproducing his paintings, but also to make original works of art that challenged conventional relationships between ink and paper.
Rembrandt’s etchings remain among the most rigorously studied and collected prints of the period. With a generous selection of his own works at its core, illustrated alongside prints and drawings by Rembrandt’s immediate predecessors, contemporaries, and followers, this catalogue presents a fascinating overview of 17th-century graphic art. Author James A. Ganz explores the era’s vibrant print culture in a series of thematic sections focusing on depictions of the artist, portraiture, natural history, daily life, landscape, mythology and religion, and the art of darkness. In the process, he sheds light on a captivating roster of famous and forgotten artists of the late Mannerist and Baroque eras, balancing the contributions of painters such as Ostade, Castiglione, and Ribera with the works of specialized graphic artists such as Callot, Hollar, and Doomer.
Filled with virtuosic engravings and vigorous etchings, exquisite ink drawings and sensuous watercolors, this rich survey of works drawn from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s world-renowned collection of graphic arts opens a new window onto the wide range and appeal of works on paper from Rembrandt’s century.
James A. Ganz is curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. His publications include Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964, Artistic San Francisco, Thirty-Six Views of the Eiffel Tower, and Impressionist Paris: City of Light.