Rembrandt Exhibit Connects Art and Community

“In Rembrandt’s time, prints were available to middle-class people, so we are reviving this idea in modern times,” said Kathleen G. Arthur, Associate Curator of Medieval and Renaissance Art for JMU’s Madison Art Collection. Arthur, who curated the exhibit “Rembrandt and the Mennonite Community,” which is showing through Feb. 28, has long dreamed of displaying the Rembrandt mimics of JMU’s collection “in a way that would be meaningful to the local community.”

"Nude Man Seated on the Ground with One Leg Extended," one of Rembrandt's figure studies is an etching from 1646, printed in 1808.

“Nude Man Seated on the Ground with One Leg Extended,” one of Rembrandt’s figure studies is an etching from 1646, printed in 1808.

The connection between one of Europe’s most revered artists, Mennonite culture, and seventeenth century Amsterdam led Arthur to collaborate with EMU History Professor Mary Sprunger, who specializes in knowledge about seventeenth century Amsterdam and Dutch Mennonites, in preparation for the show. Arthur also worked with EMU librarian Lois Bowman to locate rare, illustrated books from the Menno Simons Historical Library to accompany the Rembrandt original etching prints and paintings done in mimicry of his work. One Rembrandt print is on loan from a private collector in Bridgewater, who obtained the piece in Amsterdam in the 1960s. “Most prints in the National Gallery Collection are kept in the print storage and not displayed because they should not be exposed to too much light,” Arthur explained. “Print collecting in history was the privilege of the rich.

“We are happy that ‘real people’ will get a chance to see Rembrandt’s prints and those that were made after his death from his own copper plates, which were preserved and passed down from artist to artist.”

"Portrait of An Alchemist in his Study" is an etching done in 1652. This print was made in 1808 after Rembrandt's death.

“Portrait of An Alchemist in his Study” is an etching done in 1652. This print was made in 1808 after Rembrandt’s death.

The "Self-Portrait of Rembrandt and Saskia," etched and printed in 1636, is on loan from the National Gallery. Its exhibition at JMU is one of the few times it is available for public viewing due to its sensitivity to light.

The “Self-Portrait of Rembrandt and Saskia,” etched and printed in 1636, is on loan from the National Gallery. Its exhibition at JMU is one of the few times it is available for public viewing due to its sensitivity to light.

-Randi B. Hagi, Co-Editor In Chief


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