Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Rembrandt Etchings from Major Academic Museums Brought Together in Exhibition at Oberlin’s Allen Memorial Art Museum

Rembrandt Etchings from Major Academic Museums Brought Together in Exhibition at Oberlin’s Allen Memorial Art Museum

OBERLIN, OHIO—Etchings by Rembrandt figure prominently in the collections of many American academic museums, in part because they reward close looking and appeal to a wide range of learners and visitors. Lines of Inquiry: Learning from Rembrandt’s Etchings, an exhibition at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College that runs from February 6 through May 13, 2018, brings together 60 prints by the 17th-century Dutch master.
The exhibition has been co-organized by the Allen with Cornell University’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. Lines of Inquiry is curated jointly by Oberlin’s Curator of European and American Art Andaleeb Badiee Banta and Andrew C. Weislogel, the Seymour R. Askin, Jr. ’47 Curator of Earlier European and American Art at Cornell. In addition to prints from Oberlin and Cornell, the show includes etchings on loan from Harvard, Princeton, Syracuse, Vassar, Yale, the University of Kansas, the Morgan Library & Museum, and private collections. 
Rembrandt’s etchings have long been treasured for their technical innovation and perceptive portrayal of the human psyche. In the unique environment of the campus art museum, Rembrandt’s etchings have remained relevant even as pedagogical priorities have shifted, inspiring multidisciplinary teaching approaches, historical investigations, and technical studies. Lines of Inquiry highlights both the scope and subtlety of Rembrandt as an etcher of diverse subject matter, includingportraits, genre scenes, landscapes, nudes, and religious narratives. In addition, this multifaceted exhibition examines the artist’s enduring status as a printmaker who continually experimented with processes and materials. 
The exhibition explores how the technical study of these etchings and the papers on which they were printed reveal Rembrandt to be a savvy businessman. Research on the watermarks found in the papers can provide clues about the timelines of his print production and distribution. The exhibition introduces Cornell’s Watermark in Rembrandt Etchings (WIRE) project: a collaboration among museum staff, faculty members in art history and engineering, and students from many disciplines designed to digitally facilitate access to Rembrandt watermark scholarship. WIRE continues to pursue new watermark discoveries and expands knowledge about the artist through digital means. The exhibition includes a video on the WIRE project, along with a touchscreen interface that allows visitors to interact with the WIRE project database.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue coauthored by Andaleeb Badiee Banta and Andrew C. Weislogel, which includes research on the history of Rembrandt prints in academic collections and their technical study through the WIRE project. The directors of the Oberlin and Cornell museums have contributed an essay recounting the extraordinary episode of the Allen’s secret guardianship of the Morgan’s Rembrandt etchings during World War II; it was written by Andria Derstine, John G. W. Cowles Director at the Allen, and Stephanie Wiles, the Richard J. Schwartz Director at Cornell. The catalogue is available for $30 by contacting

At Oberlin, support for Lines of Inquiry: Learning from Rembrandt’s Etchings has been provided by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and the Robert Lehman Foundation, Inc., as well as by Maryan and Chuck Ainsworth, Elaine A. Bridges, Andrew Butterfield and Claire Schiffman, Pamela and James Elesh, Sarah G. (Sally) Epstein and Donald Collins, Suzanne Hellmuth and Jock Reynolds, Brian and Mary Kennedy, Emily and T. K. McClintock, Donald Oresman, Betsy Pinover Schiff, Deborah and Andy Scott, Katherine Solender and Willie Katzin, Sietske and Herman Turndorf, Gloria Werner, the John H. and Marjorie Fox Wieland AMAM Support Fund, and the Friends of Art Fund.

Public programs:  

Sunday, February 25, 3:00 p.m. and Friday, April 13, at noon—Curator tours
Andaleeb Badiee Banta, the Allen’s curator of the loan exhibition Lines of Inquiry: Learning from Rembrandt’s Etchings, gives a free tour.

Friday, March 16, 10:15 a.m.—AMAM in the AM
Exhibition tour by Andaleeb Badiee Banta, the Allen’s curator of European and American art, who co-curated the Rembrandt exhibition. This is part of an ongoing series of talks offered on the third Friday of the month, through May.

Thursday, April 5, 5:30 p.m. — First Thursday Evening Hours
Catherine Scallen, Andrew W. Mellon Associate Professor in the Humanities and associate professor of art history at Case Western Reserve University, gives a lecture titled “Rembrandt: The Last Renaissance Artist.” Rembrandt was a printmaker and painter of the 17th century, but his choice of subjects and thematic presentation allied him more with earlier Renaissance art. This free lecture examines this retrospective side of Rembrandt’s art and offers possible motivations—centering on his personal ambition as an artist. After Scallen’s talk, there will be a reception and galleries will remain open until 7:30 p.m.

Museum hours:
Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.; closed Mondays and major holidays. 

Self-Portrait Leaning on a Stone Sill, showing Basilisk watermark, 1639
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669)
Etching, with touches of drypoint; retouched in black chalk
Collection of Yale University Art Gallery
Transmitted light photograph courtesy of Theresa Fairbanks-Harris

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