In a manner typical of his landscape etchings, Rembrandt placed the bulk of visual weight—in this case, a towering windmill and run-down cottage—to one side. In order to create an exaggerated sense of distance, Rembrandt brought these picturesque structures forward on the picture plane by etching such minute details as wooden boards and layered shingles. Notice how using light lines Rembrandt rendered the illusion of atmospheric perspective in the field stretching to the horizon at the lower right. He was well aware that our eyes detect less detail in objects that are far away, and he incorporated this optical effect into the landscape by lightly etching the plate, covering the distant landscape with a protective coating, and deeply etching the left portion.

Looking closely, you will note a subtle shading in the sky and on the structures. Rembrandt brushed a sulfur paste directly onto the printing plate; this “bit” the surface directly, adding a unique tonal element to this print.


  • Title: The Windmill
  • Creator: Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (Dutch, b.1606, d.1669), printmaker
  • Date Created: 1641
  • Physical Dimensions: plate mark 4 1/4 x 7 3/4 in. (10.8 x 19.7 cm.)
  • Accession Number: 1943.281
  • Type: Print
  • Medium: etching with sulfur tint

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