Rembrandt never visited Paris. Yet he became an icon for nineteenth century artists like Manet, Degas, Odilon Redon, Rousseau and others. They saw in him an anti-art-academy hero. They found inspiration from many of his etchings.

This becomes clear when one visits the current exhibition at Rembrandt’s former home in Amsterdam. Museum Rembrandthuis shows how Rembrandt’s etches influenced works by French nineteenth century artists. In fact, Rembrandt’s etches caused a revival of this art in France.

Here are beautiful examples created by Rembrandt, hanging next similar impressive examples by French avant-garde artists. Take Manet, who created a nearly identical copy of Rembrandt’s “David and Goliath”.

An ill Saskia in bed, inspired a work showing a wife recuperating. There are landscapes by Rembrandt showing old oaks and dilapidated farm houses and later French impressions of trees and farms.

Often, the influence seems less direct. Take the print of an elegant French demi-mondaine, getting into a coach, showing a bit of sexy leg. Like Rembrandt, the French artists experimented with various techniques and materials. Exhibition texts explain less clear influences in French examples.

While admiring these etchings by Rembrandt and French artists, one is surprised. How come this is the first exhibition to show Rembrandt’s importance to this group of artists? His prints, his experiments, his techniques, his importance – it becomes so obvious in this small yet interesting exhibition!

The museum organizes several lectures, guided tours, workshops on this exhibition. During its opening-hours, the museum also offers regular demonstrations of the etching and printing process, during which visitors’ questions are welcomed. For more information, visit the museum’s website.

Kate Den  24th October 2018

The exhibition runs till the 6th January 2019.

Image courtesy Rembrandthuis Museum.