Label Text: What makes this image so striking? Rembrandt van Rijn’s masterful use of light and shadow added drama to his work. Like no artist before or since, Rembrandt captured the phenomenon of human interaction with the divine in this biblical scene.
Rembrandt’s genius as an etcher lies in his light touch with the etching needle. Not content with the traditional system of hatching and cross-hatching, Rembrandt employed every sort of scratch, dash, and fleck to create nuances of texture and tone. He also experimented with the darkness of his lines, immersing some lines longer in the acid bath, so that they were “bitten” more deeply. The deeper the line, the more ink it holds, and the darker it will print.
To add greater tonal variation, Rembrandt employed drypoint, scratching lines directly into the soft copper plate. These lines hold even more ink and print more darkly than their etched counterparts. This created the velvety black textures and impenetrable shadows he sought.