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Baroque Prints - Rembrandt

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Descent from the Cross by Torchlight

17th Century
8 1/8 x 6 3/8 in. (20.6 x 16.2 cm)

Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch, (1606–1669)

Object Type: PRINTS
Creation Place: Europe
Medium and Support: Engraving, etching
Accession Number: 76-G-587
Label for "Printmakers of the Baroque: 17th-Century Explorations of Space and Light", La Salle University Art Museum, December 16, 2013 – February 28th, 2014:

In most versions of the Descent from the Cross, the body of Christ is upright, having just been separated from the cross. In this harrowing image, He is horizontal and the Cross is barely visible. The focus is shifted to the men do­ing the tough but necessary work of deposing and burying the body. A man with his back to the viewer supports the body, while another struggles to disentangle the white cloth cradling it. Still another begins to remove the last nail from the foot of Christ, still pinioning Him to the cross. Below, Joseph of Arimathea prepares the awaiting shroud. The light emitted from a torch held by one of the men highlights these actions. From the shadows, the grieving Mary reaches up towards her son.

By 1654, Rembrandt was commanding high prices for his etchings. He created original compositions, rather than copies of his paintings. In addition, he made efforts to make prints somewhat “uncommon” or distinct in order to enhance their desirability to collectors. For example, he dramatically altered his plates by reworking them, by inking them in different ways, and by printing on dif­ferent types of papers. In this case, he created only one state of the print, thus ensuring limited copies and the print’s value to collectors.

Susan Dixon
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Fine Arts

Current Location: Art Museum : 17 C Gallery


Printmakers of the Baroque: 17th-Century Explorations of Space and Light, Curated by Susan M. Dixon and Carmen Vendelin, La Salle University Art Museum, December 16, 2013 – February 28th, 2014.

- Delighting in the Everyday: Dutch Golden Age Paintings and Prints, Curated by Madeleine Viljoen, La Salle University Art Museum, April 25-June 15, 2006.


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