24 September 2021
By Elaine Murphy
Rembrandt exhibition is now in place and will remain in Cork City until January 2022
A new exhibition at Cork’s Crawford Art Gallery invites visitors to encounter the astonishing work of Rembrandt van Rijn. Rembrandt in Print presents 50 of the Dutch Master’s finest works from the Ashmolean Museum’s world-class collection of over 200 etchings and drypoints.
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) is widely hailed as one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age and one of the most experimental printmakers of the seventeenth century. This touring exhibition presents Rembrandt as an unrivalled storyteller through a selection of outstanding prints ranging from 1630 until the late 1650s.
Through these works the public will be exposed to the artist’s inventive techniques and extraordinary skills. The prints, which are almost 400 years old, are perfectly preserved and, though small in scale, reveal the exquisite, rich detail of his work. Rembrandt is best known for his self-portraits and scenes of everyday life.
The exhibition, which has been on hold for 16 months, is free to the public and open daily at Crawford Art Gallery, the only Irish venue where Rembrandt’s prints can be seen. It is fitting that the Dutch Master be exhibited in the historic gallery at Emmet Place, once the city’s Custom House when Cork was a thriving merchant port, due in part to Dutch trade.
An extensive educational programme from the Learn and Explore team at the Gallery will accompany this exhibition introducing a new generation of younger visitors to the work of a legendary Dutch Master.
In collaboration with Cork Printmakers, a Print Studio will also be set up in Crawford Art Gallery to explore the tools, processes, and practice of contemporary printmaking. Presented in parallel with Rembrandt in Print, it will recreate a printmaker’s studio in the heart of the gallery and will be accompanied by workshops and online resources.
On the prints selected for the Irish debut, Ashmolean Curator, An Van Camp says:
“This collection of 50 works is the best-of-the best of the Ashmolean’s outstanding Rembrandt prints collection. He created extraordinary prints by using existing techniques in his own artistic and innovative way. His prints range from squiggly, drawing-like sketches to more pictorial, heavily-hatched compositions. While apparently quite diverse at first sight, all Rembrandt’s printed works are characterised by his talent for storytelling and his keen observational skills. His subjects are steeped in drama, adding atmosphere to views of the Dutch countryside or imbuing biblical scenes with lively characters.”
While most other contemporary printmakers made prints of historical, religious, or mythological subjects, Rembrandt also delighted in presenting everyday scenes. The exhibition includes a range of these images such as intimate family studies, a selection of confronting life-drawn nudes, and carefully detailed characters observed on the streets including beggars, peasants, Ringball players, and the repugnant Rat Catcher (1632). A variety of subjects matters from portraiture to landscape, from the biblical to the everyday are explored in the exhibition, revealing Rembrandt’s extraordinary talent but also his playful exploration of printmaking techniques.
Crawford Art Gallery’s partnership with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to bring Rembrandt in Print to Ireland is a fitting tribute to past and future links between Ireland and the Netherlands. This exhibition has been organised by the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. Exhibition and associated programmes made possible with the support of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and Cork City Council.