The Morgan Library & Museum is noted for having the finest collection of Rembrandt etchings in North America and will commemorate Rembrandt’s 400th birthday by mounting two exhibitions, “Celebrating Rembrandt: Etchings from the Morgan” and “From Rembrandt to van Gogh: Dutch Drawings from the Morgan,” on view July 15 through October 1.
The foundations for “Celebrating Rembrandt: Etchings from the Morgan” were laid when Pierpont Morgan acquired his first Rembrandt etchings from Theodore Irwin Sr in 1900 and George W. Vanderbilt in 1906.
Today the Morgan holds impressions of most of the 300 or so known etchings by Rembrandt as well as multiple, often exceedingly rare, impressions of various states. The exhibition showcases some of the most celebrated etchings from the collection along with a few lesser-known and rarely exhibited examples.
Renowned in the history of printmaking, Rembrandt’s etchings are famous for their dramatic intensity, penetrating psychology and touching humanity. Celebrating his unsurpassed skill and inventiveness as a master storyteller, the exhibition addresses some of the central and often recurring themes of the master’s work, including portraiture, the Bible, scenes from everyday life, the nude and landscape.
The exhibit opens with a selection of Rembrandt’s early portraits, created mostly while he was still a student in Leiden. His own face was often the focus of these spirited works, primarily exercises in lighting, technique and, above all, expression. Sensitive renderings of the artist’s own family – his elderly mother; first wife, Saskia; and son, Titus – are also on display.
Biblical depictions, the largest and arguably most important category of Rembrandt’s etched work, are also featured. Subtle shifts in mood and meaning will be illustrated in the different states of “Christ Presented to the People” and “Christ Crucified Between Two Thieves” (“The Three Crosses”).
“Celebrating Rembrandt: Etchings from the Morgan” is organized by Dr Anne Varick Lauder, Moore Curatorial Fellow, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Morgan Library & Museum. The exhibition is accompanied by a 20-page illustrated publication, Collecting Rembrandt: Etchings from the Morgan, by Lauder.
“From Rembrandt to van Gogh: Dutch Drawings from the Morgan” presents highlights from the museum’s collection of Dutch drawings from the Seventeenth through the Nineteenth Centuries. When Pierpont Morgan purchased the Fairfax Murray collection of Old Master drawings in 1909, he acquired one of the most substantial groups of Dutch drawings from the Seventeenth Century – the golden age of Dutch art – as well as important sheets by Eighteenth Century artists.
Since the Morgan’s founding in 1924, the collection has grown significantly and now extends into the Nineteenth Century. The Morgan today preserves one of the most comprehensive groups of Dutch drawings in the country. Comprising approximately 40 drawings spanning three centuries, the exhibition celebrates the contemporaneous publication of the catalogue raisonné of the Morgan’s Dutch drawings.
“From Rembrandt to van Gogh” opens with drawings bySeventeenth Century artists active in Holland. Principal themes ofDutch art emerge in portraits by David Bailly and Jan Lievens,marine views by Hendrick Avercamp and Ludolf Bakhuizen, andpastoral scenes by Nicolaes Berchem. A concern for natural historyis revealed in a drawing of tulips by Anthony Claesz II and a studyof a camel by Samuel van Hoogstraten.
Genre scenes of alehouse interiors by Adriaen van Ostade reveal the humorous aspect of Dutch art. Rembrandt’s achievement as a draftsman is represented by four sheets, accompanied by selections from the Morgan’s rich collection of drawings by the artist’s pupils, that serve to illustrate the master’s influence. The Dutch landscape is a recurrent subject in exhibited drawings by Rembrandt, Jacob van Ruisdael, Abraham Rutgers and Anthonie Waterloo.
The continuing tradition of draftsmanship during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is chronicled by a selection of sheets, including Italian landscape views by Isaac de Moucheron, a genre scene by Cornelis Troost, a powerful head study by Jacob de Wit, pastoral scenes by Aert Schouman and Jacob van Strij, and a watercolor view of the interior of the Oranjezaal (a room in the royal château Huis ten Bosch) by Tieleman Cato Bruining.
“From Rembrandt to van Gogh: Dutch Drawings from the Morgan” is organized by Jennifer Tonkovich, associate curator of drawings and prints, The Morgan Library & Museum. The exhibition is accompanied by the catalog Dutch Drawings in the Morgan Library: Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries, by Jane Shoaf Turner.
The Morgan Library & Museum is at 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street. For information, 212-685-0008 or www.themorgan.org.