Art lovers are in for a rare treat with today’s scheduled opening of the eagerly awaited exhibition of original Rembrandt prints at the Central Bank Museums in downtown San José.
A collection of 48 prints by the Dutch Old Master, regarded as one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history, is on loan from the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam.
“This is an extraordinary and unequaled opportunity for Costa Ricans to enjoy international art of the highest caliber,” said Gisela Sánchez of the Central Bank Museums, describing what promises to be one of most significant cultural events of the year.
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) was a prolific artist of the Baroque period, famed for his works characterized by great natural drama and freedom of expression, achieved through rich detail and powerful contrasts of intense light and dark shadows, a technique known as “chiaroscuro.”
In his etchings, as in his paintings and sketches, Rembrandt favored landscapes, biblical narratives, everyday scenes and portraiture.
He is especially celebrated for his remarkable skill for capturing the emotion of his subjects and, as a man beset by family tragedy and economic misfortune, for the deeply intimate and revealing nature of his self-portraits.
This selection features some of the finest examples of this work, created using a combination of etching, engraving and dry point techniques.
The almost 400-year-old works will be protected within a light- and temperature-controlled environment under the highest levels of security.
“It is a real honor and a pleasure t be able to bring an exhibition of this quality to the country,” said Sánchez, adding that prices will be kept low for nationals to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to view this important exhibition.
The exhibition is made possible through the support of forestry company Grupo ECOdirecta and the Dutch Embassy in Costa Rica.
“Rembrandt’s Prints” is on display until April 6 at the Central Bank Museums, beneath Plaza de la Cultura in downtown San José, open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets are ¢1,000 ($2) for nationals and $7 for foreigners. Admission is free for nationals and residents with identification on Wednesdays and the first Sunday of the month. For more information, call 243-4202 or visit www.museosdelbancocentral.org.
Full name: Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.
Born: July 15, 1606, in Leiden, Netherlands, the ninth child of a miller and a baker’s daughter.
Died: Oct. 4, 1669, in Amsterdam, aged 63.
Life: Married Saskia van Uylenburg, the cousin of a wealthy art dealer, in 1634 and had four children with her, of which three died in infancy. Despite a large income as an artist, teacher and art dealer, his ostentatious lifestyle led to his bankruptcy in 1656, forcing him to sell his magnificent collection of works by other artists and antiquities.
Work: Regarded as the most important artist in Dutch history, his artistic contributions came during the period known as the Dutch Golden Age, when culture, science, trade, power and political influence in Holland reached their peak. He produced up to 600 paintings, 290 prints and more than 2,000 drawings.
Of self-portraits alone, he is known to have made more than 40 paintings and 31 etchings.
Printmaking technique: Rembrandt began making prints in 1626 using a combination of techniques, but always preferred the freedom of etching. Here’s how it works:
–A metal (copper) plate is covered with an acidresistant ground made of wax, resin and asphalt.
–The artist scratches lines into the ground with an etching needle.
–The plate is then dipped into strong acid – the “mordant” (French for “biting”) – which eats away at the exposed metal, creating grooves sunk into the plate.
–The plate is washed and covered in ink.
–The ink is removed except where it has sunk into etched grooves.
–Finally, the inked plate and dampened paper are run through a heavy press, which forces the ink onto the paper.