A new exhibit will bring Rembrandt’s prints, as well as prints done by his contemporaries, to the Juniata College Museum of Art, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
The exhibit, titled “Rembrandt: The Consummate Etcher and Other 17th Century Printmakers,” will be on view from Feb. 14-April 13. An opening reception, free and open to the public, will be held from 5 -6:30 pm Feb. 14, and the museum will be open until 8 p.m. that night.
Rembrandt, a Dutch artist, lived in the 1600s, according to his biography by Walter Liedtke on the Met Museum’s webpage.
Kathryn Blake, the director of the Juniata College Museum of Art, hopes the exhibit will give viewers a chance to extend their knowledge of the artist’s work.
“Many people know Rembrandt’s work — more his paintings, his portraits he’s well known for — and so they may not necessarily be as familiar with the work that he did making prints,” Blake said. “And so it’s a good opportunity to see another side of an artist whose name they may recognize.”
When choosing future artwork and exhibits, the museum tries to change up what type of medium they display, Blake said. Recently, she said, they’d shown painting and photography and recent acquisitions, but hadn’t shown prints for awhile, “so we thought it was a nice opportunity to show print-making as a medium,” Blake said.
The exhibit features about 40 prints, Blake said, and the work is grouped in segments: landscapes, portraits, religious imagery, and “genre scenes” which feature daily life.
The exhibit, on loan from the Syracuse University Art Galleries, serves as more than just a thought-provoking art collection.
The exhibit itself will also give students another opportunity, both in art and museum curation, according to Jennifer Streb, a professor of art history at Juniata, and the curator for the Museum of Art.
“Students in our upper level Museum Practicum courses act as student curators for our exhibitions; they conduct research, write label text, and install the exhibitions each semester,” Streb said via email.
The exhibition is also tied with a Baroque Art and Architecture course, taught in Juniata’s Department of Art and Art History, Streb said, where students will visit the exhibition multiple times over the semester and complete observational and analytical writing assignments.
“Being able to tie course content to actual prints of historic importance will be an invaluable experience,” Streb said.
Blake, who “loves” printmaking, is also excited to see the differences in technique that the exhibit offers. At that point in the 17th century, Blake said, prints were mainly etchings or engravings. The two differ, though, in that “etchings are a lot like drawings that are replicated because of how they’re made, (and) engravings have a stronger, sharper line,” Blake said.
In the centuries before copiers and cameras, this skill was put to good use.
“17th century engraving was used a lot of times to replicate paintings — now, if we want to see what a painting looks like, we take a picture of it and we distribute it, right? Well, in the 17th century, a print maker or a print artist would have to engrave a plate in a way that would give you a sense of what a painting looks like,” Blake said.
She likes the physical qualities of being able to study the technological aspects of “the ink and the line and the paper,” as well as seeing how artists would translate color to monochrome works.
“There’s so many ways to make prints, and this exhibition shows both some engravings and etchings,” Blake said. “And (I’m excited) to see the different qualities that those art-making techniques lend to the final product. I think it’s just exciting to see those things in real life: not just digitally, not just in books, but to see them on the wall and be able to up close and personal to them is always a great pleasure.”
Since “many of the prints are small — prints are often made rather small, particularly in this time — (they) invite people to get up close and look at them really carefully,” Blake said.
Both Streb and Blake said one of their favorite works in the exhibit is Rembrandt’s print, “The Artist’s Mother in a Cloth Headdress, Looking Down.”
“The work is compelling, but quite small, and it’s amazing to see how much detail the artist was able to capture,” Streb said.
Prints include Rembrandt’s “Landscape with a Cottage and a Large Tree,” and “Self Portrait Drawing at a Window,” as well as prints by contemporaries like Claude Mellan, Cornelius Dusart, and others, Streb said.
If you go
What: “Rembrandt: The Consummate Etcher and Other 17th Century Printmakers,”
When: Feb. 14-April 13; opening reception 5-6:30 p.m. Feb. 14
Where: Juniata College Museum of Art, 1700 Moore St., Huntingdon