Claude Mellan, The veil of Saint Veronica, engraving, 1649.
Much like etching and engraving, drawing also starts with lines. You can use lines to draw just about anything. A single line is sufficient to create a shape, while hatching and crosshatching can be used to render light-and-dark contrasts to reproduce the incidence of light and volume. Lines can take an infinite number of forms. For instance, the engraver Claude Mellan poured intense concentration into the one continuous line he used to draw the face of Jesus Christ on a copper plate. This masterful example of the use of lines is one of the works presented in this exhibition. By contrast, other artists have used freely and rapidly drawn lines to suggest movement or even temperament. All of the works in the exhibition are part of the collection housed in the Rijksmuseum Print Room.
Huigen Leeflang, Curator of Prints at the Rijksmuseum: “Rembrandt is the absolute master of the expressive line. His ability to use only a few lines to capture a facial expression or body language remains unparalleled.”