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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669), Self-Portrait Leaning on a Stone Sill, 1639. Etching, with touches of drypoint, retouched in black chalk. Collection of the Yale University Art Gallery.

ITHACA, NY.- The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University presents Lines of Inquiry: Learning from Rembrandt’s Etchings, on view from September 23 to December 17, 2017. 

Jointly organized by the Johnson with the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, the exhibition was cocurated by Andrew C. Weislogel, Seymour R. Askin, Jr. ’47 Curator of Earlier European and American Art at the Johnson, and Andaleeb Badiee Banta, curator of European and American art at the Allen. The exhibition will be on view at Oberlin February 6 to May 13, 2018. 

The show highlights a unique collaboration,” said Stephanie Wiles, the Richard J. Schwartz Director of the Johnson Museum. “Both of our museums have strong holdings of Rembrandt etchings. We saw an opportunity to bring them together with works of the highest quality in multiple states, mainly from other academic collections, to consider them as inspiring tools for research and teaching.” 

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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669), Christ Healing the Sick (The Hundred Guilder Print), ca. 1648. Etching, engraving, and drypoint on Japanese gampi paper; second of two lifetime states. Collection of the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College; Mrs. F. F. Prentiss Bequest, 1944.64.

More than sixty impressions from across Rembrandt’s oeuvre are on view from the collections of Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Syracuse, and Yale Universities, Oberlin and Vassar Colleges, and the University of Kansas, as well as the Morgan Library & Museum and private collectors. They show the artist’s process, including how he made changes to his plates, and detail his use of a variety of ways of inking and uses of paper. Subject matter ranges from portraits and self-portraits to genre scenes, religious narratives, landscapes, study plates, and academic nude studies 

The story of how Oberlin temporarily sheltered the Morgan Library’s 487 Rembrandt impressions during World War II served as another inspiration for the exhibition and is published for the first time in the exhibition catalogue. “The Allen marks its centennial in 2017, a particularly appropriate moment to tell this story,” said Andria Derstine, the John G. W. Cowles Director of the Allen Museum. “Several of the Morgan prints that were kept safe here are on view as part of this exhibition.” 

Lines of Inquiry also links new research from a cross-disciplinary project at Cornell on Rembrandt’s watermarks, the WIRE (Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings) project. Led by Andrew Weislogel and C. Richard Johnson, Jr., a Cornell engineering professor, students are developing a computer-assisted decision tree for classifying watermarks, based on the work of the Rijksmuseum’s Erik Hinterding, using digitized radiographic images of Rembrandt prints.  

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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669), Jan Six, 1647. Etching, engraving and drypoint. Collection of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College.

On Saturday, October 28, the Johnson Museum will host a daylong symposium, “Learning and Teaching with Rembrandt: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to the Master Etcher,” to examine collaborative research in academic collections, and how it extends the reach of existing knowledge about Rembrandt’s practice. A panel discussion will explore the teaching of Rembrandt prints from a variety of perspectives in different settings, including the university, the museum, and the conservation studio.  

Presenters are scheduled to include Erik Hinterding, Rijksmuseum; Susan Donahue Kuretsky, Vassar College; Nadine Orenstein, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Margaret Holben Ellis, New York University; Elizabeth Nogrady, Vassar College; Stephanie Dickey, Queen’s University; Andaleeb Badiee Banta, Oberlin College; and Andrew Weislogel and C. Richard Johnson, Jr., Cornell University.  

Symposium registration is free; contact Elizabeth Saggese at eas8@cornell.edu or 607 254-4642 to reserve a space by Monday, October 23.

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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669), Landscape with Three Gabled Cottages beside a Road, 1650. Etching and drypoint; third of three lifetime states. Collection of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University; Gift of Nancy and Nelson Schaenen, Jr., Class of 1950, 2016.074.