Rembrandt the Etcher
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) had not yet reached the age of twenty when he made his first etching. He never had a proper teacher for this technique, but took inspiration from the work of his contemporaries. Rembrandt learned the tricks of the trade through trial and error, and ultimately reinvented the medium.
His etchings are the fruit of an unrelenting innovative urge to push the very boundaries of the technique. Throughout his career Rembrandt was driven by the ambition to stand alongside the great graphic artists of the past, such as Albrecht Dürer and Lucas van Leyden.
It was actually through his graphic work, which reached a much larger public and was distributed much wider than his paintings and drawings, that Rembrandt gained European fame in his lifetime. Even then, people would look with admiration and amazement at the spontaneous lines, the extraordinary light direction and the intensive use of drypoint. Today, Rembrandt is acknowledged, together with Dürer, Goya and Picasso, as one of the greatest print makers in the history of art.