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Celebrate Rembrandt’s 403rd Birthday

 In Art & Gallery News, Artists & Special Collections, Exhibits, Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt van Rijn. "Sheet of Studies, Head of Rembrandt, Beggars." Circa 1632.

SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA — The Bowers Museum is inviting the public to join in its celebration of the 403rd birthday of Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn. The event, on Wednesday, July 15, will include performances, art projects, and a film screening.

From 10am to 4pm, museum visitors who dress up as Rembrandt or wear their favorite Renaissance costumes will receive free admission all day long. Those in costume will also receive a free piece of cake with any purchase at the museum café.

The exhibition, Sordid and Sacred: The Beggars in Rembrandt’s Etchings, features 35 rare etchings executed between 1629 and 1654 and is currently on view at The Bowers Museum until August 23.

In his essay for the exhibition catalogue, Gary Schwartz – Dutch author, art historian, and editor of The Complete Etchings of Rembrandt – writes:

“The image of the beggar in Netherlandish art was no better than in society as a whole. It would not then have been out of line with the convictions of his society, with Netherlandish artistic tradition or classical art theory, had Rembrandt depicted beggars as contemptible or loathsome creatures. Indeed, some of his work fits perfectly well into this picture.

This kind of crossover between street life and sacred history matches a pattern that is found elsewhere in Rembrandt’s work. Mean and sordid though they may have been in life and in art theory, in Rembrandt’s etchings beggars are bestowed with sanctity and individuality.

This constellation of images and of markets – from the pennies paid for small etchings of beggars to the veritable fortunes Rembrandt earned for paintings for the stadholder – shows how essential Rembrandt’s etchings of beggars were in his formative years as an artist. The way he imagined the beggar is inextricable from the way he imagined himself, the way he imagined Christ, the way he conceived of imagery itself.”

Rembrandt van Rijn is widely recognized as the greatest practitioner of the etching technique in the history of art.


Have you seen the new Park West Gallery website dedicated to Rembrandt and his etchings? Please visit rembrandt.parkwestgallery.com and share your feedback below!

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