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, he was also a remarkable printmaker, executing nearly 300 etchings throughout his career. The exhibition places Rembrandt's work alongside other masters of the 17th century including, Annibale Carracci, Anthony van Dyck and Salvator Rosa.
Etching, whereby the lines of the printing plate are 'bitten' by acid, became increasingly popular with artists during the 17th century. As they 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'.
Masters of the bitten line brings together masterpieces printed on paper from the 17th 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.
- New Gallery
- Free entry