All posts in “rembrandt”

Muse/News: Jeffrey Gibson’s layers, Viking surprises, and Baroque drama

SAM News

Like a Hammer, the solo exhibition of contemporary art star Jeffrey Gibson, opens at SAM in about three months! Learn more about his exciting artistic practice from OUT and Architects + Artisans, who both review his solo show This Is the Day, now on view at the Wellin Museum in New York State.

Launched in 2016, SAM’s Emerging Arts Leader Internship now boasts seven graduates—including two who are now full-time SAM employees. That’s pretty rad. Meet the current Emerging Arts Leader intern, Trang Tran!

Toronto’s Narcity offers “13 Fun Washington Date Ideas That Are Way More Fun Than You’d Think”—including the Seattle Art Museum.

Local News

The end of an era, indeed. City Arts announced that it is ceasing publication after 12 years. Brangien Davis of Crosscut explored what this means for arts coverage and for local artists.

In advance of her TEDxSeattle talk last Saturday, Jono Vaughan spoke with Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne about the continuing Project 42, “active accomplice creation,” and sharing her platform.

Jasmyne Keimig for The Stranger on The Vikings Begin at the Nordic Museum, whose moody galleries “capture the ethos of early Viking society”—including some surprises.

“Not only were women guardians of many aspects of spiritual life, and carriers of the concept of revenge, but there’s evidence they were also warriors, and were buried in high-status graves packed with weapons—a custom previously believed to have been only for men.”

Inter/National News

Artnet’s Kate Brown reports on Rijksmuseum’s upcoming exhibition that commemorates the 350th year of Rembrandt van Rijn‘s death. I just love the simple, all-you-need-to-say title: All the Rembrandts.

A few of SAM’s once-featured and still-favorite artists have been making news lately: Sondra Perry won the 2018 Nam June Paik Award, Kerry James Marshall was ranked number 2 on Art Review’s Power 100, and Mickalene Thomas is included on the OUT100 list.

Murder most Baroque? Artnet’s Javier Pes on a London show exploring violence in the work of 17th-century artist Jusepe de Ribera, including rumors that he murdered his rival (dang!).

“The single-venue show will be topical in London, which has seen a recent escalation in gang violence. There have been fatal stabbings in Camberwell and Peckham, two neighborhoods that are near Dulwich. Payne says that the violence in Ribera’s art is ‘not gratuitous.’”

And Finally

Making art out of rude cell phone disruptions.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Like A Hammer, 2014, Jeffrey Gibson, Mississippi Band Choctaw/Cherokee, b. 1972, elk hide, glass beads, artificial sinew, wool blanket, metal studs, steel, found pinewood block, and fur, 56 × 24 × 11 in., Collection of Tracy Richelle High and Roman Johnson, courtesy of Marc Straus Gallery, New York, image courtesy of Jeffrey Gibson Studio and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California, photo: Peter Mauney.
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Manson F. Backus: Print Collector, Book Collector

Did you know that the Bullitt Library is accessible to the public and often highlights books and resources related to our exhibitions for visitors to view? Visit the latest book installation related to Graphic Masters: Dürer, Rembrandt, Hogarth, Goya, Picasso, R. Crumb, on view just outside the Bullitt Library on the fifth floor of the Seattle Art Museum during the library’s public hours: Wednesday–Friday, 10 am–4 pm. Graphic Masters closes August 28, so hurry up and see it soon!

A Collector’s Collection

Several of the etchings by Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669) in the exhibition, Graphic Masters, are part of the Seattle Art Museum’s Manson F. Backus Memorial Collection. Manson Franklin Backus (American, 1853–1935) was a well-known, successful Seattle banker and philanthropist that, toward the later part of his life, became a learned collector of art objects. He traveled extensively to Europe and beyond amassing a large collection, over twenty-five years, of fine prints, other types of art, and a substantial library to support his learning.

Self Portrait with Saskia by Rembrandt

His engraving and etching collection was regarded with much esteem in the region. He regularly loaned prints to exhibitions at the Seattle Fine Art Society—an organization that would ultimately become the Seattle Art Museum—and then to the museum itself. In 1935, upon his death, his collection of more than 300 etchings and engravings was bequeathed to the Seattle Art Museum. Selected works from this collection have been exhibited over the years, notably in Manson F. Backus Memorial Exhibition: Etchings and Engravings in 1935; a three-part exhibition—Manson F. Backus Memorial Collection of Etchings by Masters—shown in 1937; and more recently, European Masters: The Treasures of Seattle, the companion exhibition to Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London in 2013.

“. . . a collector of etchings must be something of an artist in appreciation. . . . and judging by the prints on the walls of the entrance hall and the library of Mr. Backus’ Highlands home, his appreciation has been wide and sure.”
—“Second Hobby, Done Well, Is Found In M.F. Backus’ Etching Collection,” Seattle Sunday Times (February 1, 1931)

A Collector’s Library
In 1935, upon Backus’ passing, in addition to the print collection bequeathed, his extensive library on artists, technical aspects, and the collecting of prints was received by the Seattle Art Museum Library. The collection ranges from important titles of the 18th and 19th century, to titles that were likely purchased not long before his death. Each contains his distinctive bookplate that states: “Ex Libris, Confido in Deo [Trust in God], Manson Franklin Backus” and depicts a coat of arms with three doves and a chevron. We are pleased to be able to present a small sampling from the approximately 160 volumes that were willed to the library.

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Among his library are a number of fine editions, but none is more unique and interesting than Etchings: A Collection of 50 Invitation Cards Sent by Eminent Artists and Etchers to Art Patrons, a bound volume of collected invitation cards and etchings. Included within is an etching by William Hogarth (English, 1697–1764) and original sepia drawings by Clarkson Frederick Stanfield, R.A. (English, 1793–1867) after Rembrandt and Meindert Hobbema (Dutch, 1638–1709). Not a lot of information is known about this work. An advertisement tucked into the volume confirms that the firm of George Bayntun in Bath, Somerset, England, bound the work, and that this was done sometime around 1900, but the person who compiled the collection is unknown. Additionally, no other edition of this work is known.

Hogarth print

—Traci Timmons, Librarian, Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library

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Graphic Content: Etching

Make something! We’re here to help with more than just artistic inspiration and influence. The Graphic Content blog series offers a weekly debrief on different types on printmaking and helps point out examples of them that you can find in Graphic Masters: Dürer, Rembrandt, Hogarth, Goya, Picasso, R. Crumb.

August is the final month of Graphic Masters, which means you’ve only got three more Press & Print: Drop-In Studio events left to learn the printmaking techniques of the masters! Here’s your weekly primer on etching, a type of intaglio printing that Rembrandt uses in combination with drypoint in Christ Healing the Sick. Come to SAM and see.

Etching

Etching

Instead of removing metal from the plate through force, etching uses a chemical process. The plate is prepared by brushing on a thin layer of waxy, acid-resistant covering called ground. The design is scratched through the ground, revealing the plate below. Compared to engraving, very little pressure is needed, allowing for fluid lines more akin to drawing. The entire plate is then submerged in acid, which etches, or bites, the exposed metal. Once the desired effect has been reached, the plate is removed from the acid bath and the ground cleaned off. It is then inked and printed through the same process as engraving.

Etching

The depth of an etched line is determined by how long the plate is submerged in acid. To achieve dramatic tonal variations, Rembrandt removed the plate from the acid and applied more ground to protect the lighter areas before submerging the plate again—a process called stopping out.

Images: Christ Healing the Sick (The Hundred Guilder Print), 1643, Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch, 1606–1669, etching and drypoint, 11 1/8 × 15 1/4 in., Private Collection. Illustrations: Tim Marsden
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Graphic Content: Drypoint

We continue to dig in to the printmaking on view in Graphic Masters: Dürer, Rembrandt, Hogarth, Goya, Picasso, R. Crumb with another technique requiring carving—drypoint, a type of intaglio printing. Last week we discussed engraving, a method that produces clean, smooth lines. Drypoint, on the other hand, produces a more textured and ephemeral effect offering delicate and subtle touches. Looking for a more hands-on learning experience? Check out our Press & Print: Drop-in Studio events taking place Sundays, 11 am–1 pm through August!

Drypoint

Similar to engraving, drypoint requires the artist to carve directly into the plate surface. What distinguishes this technique is the way the drypoint needle displaces the copper to form burr—jagged furrows and curls of rough metal on the surface. The burr grabs and holds the ink, resulting in rich, fuzzy lines. Because repeated pressure from the printing process quickly wears down the burr, the effect is fleeting and early impressions are considered the finest and most sought after.

Saint Jerome Beside a Pollard Willow, 1648, Rembrandt van Rijn

Ink captured by the burr spreads out on the paper, resulting in caterpillar-like lines. In this etching, Rembrandt added touches of drypoint to accentuate the texture of the foliage.

Saint Jerome Beside a Pollard Willow, 1648, Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch, 1606–1669, etching and drypoint, 7 1/16 x 5 1/4 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Dr. Leo Wallerstein, 53.186.
Illustrations: Tim Marsden
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Graphic Content: What is a Print?

Get a primer on the printmaking techniques of the masters in Graphic Masters: Dürer, Rembrandt, Hogarth, Goya, Picasso, R. Crumb. Try making your own prints at home after you’ve been inspired by your visit to SAM, or check out our Press & Print: Drop-In Studio sessions while at you’re at the museum and put these tips into practice with the guidance of local artists.

Let’s start simple!

What is a print?
At its most basic, a print is a work of art on paper that’s produced in multiples from an inked surface. While various types of printmaking exist, the basic components are the same—an inked wood block or plate, a sheet of paper, and a press that transfers the ink to the paper. The process is repeated many times, resulting in multiple impressions of the same image. Voila, a print edition!

How to make a Potato Print!

The development of printmaking
Following the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, printmaking gained popularity as an inexpensive way to disseminate visual information to a mass audience. Early prints—typically illustrations in books or reproductions of famous paintings—tended to be relatively small, affordable, and easily transportable. While fine paintings by important artists were too expensive for most people, prints were within reach.

The Development of Printmaking

Prints did not remain purely illustrative for long. Printmaking came to be seen as a distinct mode of expression capable of producing works of fine art. Artists like Albrecht Dürer established a tradition of virtuoso printmaking. His episodic handling of narrative through print series, like The Large Passion, laid the groundwork for later generations of graphic artists from William Hogarth to R. Crumb.

The technical innovations of artists like Rembrandt van Rijn and Francisco Goya pushed the boundaries of the medium and further elevated printmaking as an art form. Connoisseurs began to build collections of particularly fine impressions. Rembrandt’s Christ Healing the Sick was so sought after that it fetched prices usually associated with oil paintings, earning it the nickname “The Hundred Guilder Print.” But in general, prints remained accessible works of art meant to be viewed and appreciated up close.

Intaglio

Tools of the Trade

Intaglio (Italian for “carving”) is the opposite of relief. A linear design is carved into the surface of a polished metal plate, usually copper. Ink is worked into the entire plate and then the surface is wiped clean, leaving ink only in the recessed grooves and pits. As the printing process wears down the plate, the artist can rework the design to pull more impressions. Altering the plate surface results in a new version, or state. Some artists, Rembrandt in particular, used this opportunity to make dramatic changes to their compositions.

Christ Healing the Sick (The Hundred Guilder Print) by Rembrandt van Rijn

There are several types of intaglio printing: engraving, drypoint, etching, and aquatint. Artists may use just one technique at a time or a combination of several in a single print. We’ll cover each type of intaglio printing in the weeks to come, stay tuned!

IMAGES: Illustrations: Tim Marsden. Christ Healing the Sick (The Hundred Guilder Print), 1643, Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch, 1606–1669, etching and drypoint, 11 1/8 × 15 1/4 in., Private Collection.
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Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: A final note

Until this weekend, the Seattle Art Museum was proud to play host to Rembrandt van Rijn; Mary, Countess Howe; Mrs. Musters; and their “friends,”—the figures in the great paintings from Kenwood House, London. We spend quite a lot of time talking about these pictures, referring to the “characters” within, but don’t usually give deeper thought to the sitters portrayed, whose names give the pictures their titles. These were people who had lives, families, and legacies—of which we were wonderfully reminded last week.

On Friday, two days before Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London closed to the Seattle public, we were paid a visit by Bob Chaworth-Musters, and his wife Barbara. Bob and Barbara had driven down to Seattle from British Columbia, just to see the show. Does their name sound familiar? It ought to—his five-times-great grandmother was the Mrs. Musters painted by both George Romney (a lady in a blue and white hat) and Joshua Reynolds (the larger-than-life Mrs. Musters as ‘Hebe’).

Bob and Barbara were kind enough to stay and speak with me for a few minutes. They talked about their explorations into family genealogy, the locations of other Musters family portraits, and Mrs. Musters’ storied life and loves—including the English King George III! It was a pleasure to hear from them, learn about their family, and see the exhibition with them before it closed.

Sometimes we forget that the characters in our favorite works of art were people, with real stories, and often with real descendants. Bob and Barbara Chaworth-Musters were a great reminder—and gracious guests at SAM!

Bob Chaworth-Musters with SAM curatorial staff member, Sarah Berman, and his ancestor Mrs. Musters (Photo: Barbara Chaworth-Musters)
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