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Artist Drawing after a Model

Rembrandtc. 1639

Kunsthalle Bremen

Kunsthalle Bremen
Bremen, Germany

In his studio, the artist has turned away from the easel to draw a female nude. His model holds drapery in one hand, and a palm branch in the other, which is why the scene is regarded as an allegory of the glory of the art of drawing. The subject and technique correspond to each other: Rembrandt portrays the artist as an “inventor” in sketching his pictorial fancy, choosing the medium that would allow for the greatest spontaneity and individual expression in prints of the day. The etching replaced the engraving in the 17th century because—like a pencil—the etching needle could be easily used to attain subtle painterly effects. Rembrandt created around 300 works using this technique, which offered varying possibilities of expression, as this drawing reveals: Rembrandt painstakingly executed the upper half with the easel, the arch, and the bust in etching, whereas the lower half was sketched exclusively in drypoint. This seemingly unfinished work found its buyers, especially since it provided insights into Rembrandt’s working methods. Apparently, he sketched directly, without tracing a preliminary drawing, onto the plate covered with wax, destroying the first spontaneous sketch as he proceeded to work.

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  • Title: Artist Drawing after a Model
  • Creator: Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn
  • Date Created: c. 1639
  • Physical Dimensions: 385.0 x 305.0 mm
  • Type: print
  • Rights: Kunsthalle Bremen - Der Kunstverein in Bremen. Kupferstichkabinett
  • Medium: Etching, burin and drypoint

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