Hood Museum begins four-month program to celebrate Rembrandt

by Laura Romain | 4/6/06 5:00am

Not every day marks the tetracentennial of an artist as renowned as Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.

To honor the 400th birthday of "the most inventive and original printmaker of all time," the Hood Museum is hosting a variety of programs starting from April 8 until Sept. 17, including a birthday bash on July 15.

The Museum will host an exhibition titled "Rembrandt: Master of Light and Shadow," which includes 36 of Rembrandt's etchings and drypoints. To explore the creative vision of the Dutch painter, the sketches will be presented alongside the masterpieces in which they culminate.

Through works that span 30 years of Rembrandt's career, the collection highlights the evolution of his portrayal of light and shadows, demonstrating techniques that range from simple to masterful.

The exhibit will open with a lecture on "Rembrandt and the Reform of Etching" by Marit Westermann, director of the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, at 5:30 p.m. on April 8 in the Loew Auditorium.

Born in the Netherlands in 1606, Rembrandt created at least 300 etchings, 600 paintings and 2,000 drawings during his prolific career. He famously declared that he sought to represent "die meeste ende di naetuereelste beweechgelickheijt" ("the greatest and most natural movement").

During the early 17th century, etches became popular as a graphic medium capable of expressing subtle and intricate designs. By cutting an image into a layer of wax over a copper plate, the artist then uses an acid solution which etches the portions of copper that are not protected by wax, creating a plate that can reproduce prints of its design.

Unlike his contemporaries, Rembrandt frequently reworked his plates, thereby developing new techniques while preserving versatile insights into his artistic processes.

Rembrandt is particularly renowned for his virtuosic mastery of contrasts between fullness and emptiness, brilliance and obscurity. His dynamic and innovative presentation of his subjects reveal both the artist's fascination with the human psyche and his empathetic vision of humankind.

According to the Hood's Public Relations Coordinator Sharon Reed, the Museum's exhibition of Rembrandt's prints emphasizes "his wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, reflected in his passion for portraits, landscapes, biblical stories, and mythological and allegorical scenes."

In addition to the opening lecture on April 8, a "Celebrating Rembrandt" symposium will be held in Loew Auditorium from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on April 22.

Other programming includes a lecture on "Not Going Gentle: Rembrandt and the Roughness of Age" by Simon Schama, Columbia University Professor of History and Art History, at 5:30 p.m. on April 26.

Dartmouth Associate Professor of Studio Art Louise Hamlin and Art History Professor Joy Kenseth, who is currently teaching a course titled "Rembrandt as an Etcher" this term, will deliver lunchtime talks on "Rembrandt from an Artist's Perspective" and "Rembrandt from an Art Historian's Perspective" on May 2 and May 9, respectively.

Special tours will be offered at 2:00 p.m. on May 6, May 13 and June 3, and visitors can ponder "die meeste ende di naetuereelste beweechgelickheijt" during regular museum hours.