Masters of Bitten Line: Etching in the Age of Rembrandt
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Masters of Bitten Line: Etching in the Age of Rembrandt
Rembrandt van Rijn Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple 1635. etching. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, purchased 1976.



AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND.- Auckland Art Gallery celebrates the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt van Rijn’s birth (1606-1669) with the exhibition Masters of the Bitten Line: Etching in the Age of Rembrandt. Best known today as a painter, Rembrandt was also a remarkable printmaker, executing nearly 300 etchings throughout his career. In his own time, his prints were highly sought after and he is still recognized as one of the most innovative and accomplished etchers to have used the medium.

Masters of the Bitten Line places Rembrandt’s work alongside other masters of the seventeenth century, including Annibale Carracci, Anthony van Dyck and Salvator Rosa. It explores the period in which etching reached its peak in Europe by highlighting gems from the Gallery’s collection.

Etching, whereby the lines of the printing plate are ‘bitten’ by acid, became increasingly popular with artists during the seventeenth century. In contrast to engraving, little physical effort was required and they were quicker to produce. In addition, due to the technique’s similarity to drawing, it appealed particularly to painters.

As artists used the medium, they discovered its potential and began to exploit this in their work. Whereas engraving was exacting in the use of line, artists discovered etching’s ability to play with line, to revel in its sketchy properties or to use it lyrically to describe form. They experimented with the variety of effects of inking and wiping the plate and discovered the tonal ranges possible through ‘multiple bitings’. As a relatively new medium, etching was also free from the pressures of conventions, allowing artists to explore and experiment with new themes and genres, to execute reproducible studies or to represent contemporary events Masters of the Bitten Line brings together masterpieces printed on paper from the seventeenth century. The best etchings combine the spontaneity of drawing with the pictorial effects of painting, while also harnessing the intrinsic possibilities of the technique. As the prints in this exhibition by Rembrandt and his contemporaries demonstrate, they did this through mastery of the bitten line. The exhibition is on display at the Auckland Art Gallery until 6 August. It is accompanied by a catalogue.

A special programme of events to mark the 400th anniversary of the birth of Rembrandt van Rijn.

Saturday 15 July - Happy Birthday Rembrandt - 11am & 12 noon. Jane Davidson – The Gallery’s other Rembrandts. A rare opportunity to go behind the scenes on a tour of the Gallery’s print room with assistant curator Jane Davidson. Strictly limited numbers per tour Bookings essential ph 307 4540. Bookings must be confirmed, in person, no less than 20 minutes prior to commencement of the tour.

1pm - Alexis Neal – The printing of an etching. Printmaker Alexis Neal demonstrates the traditional methods of how to make and print an etching. Main Gallery – free.

2pm - Erin Griffey - Facing the Life of Rembrandt:- his self-portraits. Dr Erin Griffey, lecturer in Art History at the University of Auckland, gives an illustrated talk that looks at the intriguing life of Rembrandt through his self-portraits. Main Gallery auditorium – free.

3pm - Camilla Baskcomb – how to look after your Rembrandts at home. The Gallery’s works on paper conservator, Camilla Baskcomb, demonstrates the consequences of neglected works of art and how to apply simple conservation standards at home. Main Gallery – free.














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