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Rembrandt at the Fogg

Rembrandt and His Contemporaries through March 24th At the Fogg Art Museum

By Margaret H. Gleason

You may have missed the lottery for Seymour Slive's class Rembrandt and His Contemporaries, but you can still see the works of this master. In conjunction with the class, the Fogg is presenting an intimate exhibit of works by Rembrandt and others in a two-part showing. The first of these skillfully displays 17th century Dutch drawings and etchings. and are of a remarkable quality.

The exhibit deserves attention for a uniformly high quality of the pieces and the juxtaposition of Rembrandt with other artists of the period who depict similar themes.

The collected pictures are delicate and intriguing, illustrating the combination of realism and Baroque drama prominent in Rembrandt's work. The pieces range from Rembrandt's high Baroque style to his later, lyric pictures. The majority of the etchings are biblical scenes, a favorite genre of Rembrandt, of a remarkable quality.

Rembrandt's biblical etchings treat Old and New Testament subjects; these scenes display many of Rembrandt's hallmarks. The Near Eastern motif appears in the clothes and objects of his pictures. Rembrandt also portrays the poorer members of society in a highly sympathetic light, depicting shepherds and peasants as particularly pious disciples of Christ.

The majority of the etchings date from Rembrandt's high Baroque period, characterized by the use of light and intense detail to create scenes of drama and motion. Perhaps the best example of this style is the famous etching of Christ Healing the Sick, also known as the Hundred Guilder Print. In this intricate print Christ stands in the middle of a dark cave, illuminating the poor Christians who have gathered around him to receive relief from their pain. Rembrandt depicts the sick in impressive detail, from the emotions on their faces to the folds of their turbans.

The later etching, Peter and John Healing the Cripple at the Gates of the Temple represents a calmer, more introspective Rembrandt. This is visible in the composed expressions of the apostles and in the controlled architectural setting of the temple. The emotion previously rendered by exaggerated lighting and gestures is now communi-

But the success of this exhibit relies on the combination of artists presented. Rembrandt's etchings are particularly interesting in contrast to the works of other Dutch artists of the 17th century. For example the placing of Rembrandt's Flight into Egypt next to the same subject interpreted by Hendrik Gonat, an early 17th century artist, highlights Rembrandt's unique style. Gonat's etching employs the same dramatic lighting so often associated with Rembrandt, but the effect is completely different. Gonat's precisely controlled technique renders the work sterile, though beautiful. In contrast, the Rembrandt etching infuses a detailed realist landscape with life.

The technical quality of the prints in the exhibit is also impressive. Most of the works are of first or second editions, distinct and closely reflective of the artist's original drawing on the plate. The high quality of the pieces enhances one's appreciation of the artists' talent.

The Fogg's selection of the drawings and etchings is delightful. Comparing Rembrandt's own variations with the works of his contemporaries is pleasant if not enthralling. In this half of the exhibit, the skill which Rembrandt imparted to his biblical etchings is well displayed. One can only hope the second half is as successful

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