It's not often that Colorado hosts a collection of works produced by one of the greatest artists of the 17th century. In fact, the last exhibit of Rembrandt prints to visit the Front Range was in 2008 in Denver. But this week, Colorado College's I.D.E.A. Space opens a viewing of 35 Rembrandt etchings in Rembrandt: Beyond the Brush, on loan from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Montgomery, Ala.
Rebecca Tucker, who specializes in northern European art as an associate professor of art history at Colorado College, says Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) truly was a "superstar" of the Dutch Golden Age: "very famous, a little bit radical, and he did things that other artists of the time couldn't or wouldn't do." He didn't specialize in a particular genre, which was unusual; he started out as a successful portraitist, then went on to create landscapes, still lifes and scenes from the Bible and everyday Dutch life. Examples of all those will be on display in this traveling exhibit.
Beyond the Brush will highlight the depth and range of Rembrandt's etchings (intaglio prints made from metal plates manipulated with wax and acid). His portraits and narratives demonstrate his sensitivity and genius ability to render human emotions. Some of his etchings are looser and unfinished, while others approach the polished artistry of a painting. Jessica Hunter-Larsen, curator of the I.D.E.A. Space, says most of the artworks are small, but still show a detailed precision in his marks.
As for Tucker, she says the skill it took to create one of the works in the show (pictured), "The Descent from the Cross by Torchlight," could make a printmaker cry, "because it's so hard to get this tonal range, the density of the line, the descriptive quality. My colleague [CC art professor and printmaker Kate Leonard] says nobody has ever been able to etch the way Rembrandt etched."