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Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt Biography

Approximately 300 etchings and drypoints by Rembrandt were produced between 1626 and 1665. His work as a printmaker paralleled his career as a painter; he rarely dealt with the same subjects in both mediums, and he rarely made prints of his paintings. Above all, he was a brilliant experimenter and inventor in this field, frequently using standard materials in unexpected ways. His influence on printmaking is still visible in contemporary etchings. While still a student in Leiden, Rembrandt started etching early in his artistic career. His early prints frequently include his own face, however they were presumably not intended to be self-portraits but rather studies of various facial expressions. The Good Samaritan (1633) was one of the larger, highly finished prints Rembrandt attempted to make after relocating from Leiden to Amsterdam, but he quickly abandoned such formal and refined uses of printmaking intended to promote a painter’s work. His prints are frequently small and illegible. He even used the printing plate as a sketch book in Sheet with Two Studies, compiling a variety of seemingly unrelated and incomplete drawings. In works like Abraham and Isaac, Rembrandt appreciated portraying the realistic human feeling and narrative detail drawn from stories from the Old and New Testaments. Another favoured print topic was scenery. The most profoundly dramatic of these paintings is The Three Trees, in which he portrayed the characteristically windy and wet Dutch weather. He produced landscape prints during the course of his career, first in the 1640s and then again in the 1650s, the latter of which saw the reprinting of many of the earlier group’s prints. Many of his landscapes, like The Windmill
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