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Rembrandt: Portraits in Print

Overview

Selected by CHOICE as Outstanding Academic Title 2004 in the Fine Arts
Rembrandt: Portraits in Print
is the first monograph devoted to Rembrandt's etched portraits of himself and his contemporaries. Between 1633 and 1665, Rembrandt etched less than two dozen formal portraits, yet this small body of work includes some of his most finely crafted and widely sought-after prints. Rembrandt depicted influential preachers of the Remonstrant, Reformed and Mennonite faiths as well as ...
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Overview

Selected by CHOICE as Outstanding Academic Title 2004 in the Fine Arts
Rembrandt: Portraits in Print
is the first monograph devoted to Rembrandt's etched portraits of himself and his contemporaries. Between 1633 and 1665, Rembrandt etched less than two dozen formal portraits, yet this small body of work includes some of his most finely crafted and widely sought-after prints. Rembrandt depicted influential preachers of the Remonstrant, Reformed and Mennonite faiths as well as prominent citizens such as the tax administrator Jan Wtenbogaert, the wealthy connoisseur Jan Six, the physician Arnout Tholinx and the landscape painter Jan Asselijn. Most of these men participated in a circle of artists, poets and patrons who thought of themselves as a "Dutch Parnassus." For this community of art lovers, the celebration of individual character and accomplishment, in products ranging from imposing portrait sculptures to witty occasional verses, was a central preoccupation. In this context, Rembrandt's portrait prints construct nuanced personal tributes to individuals who appreciated both their allusive content and their pictorial finesse. At the same time, Rembrandt had to compete in a market populated by professional printmakers and publishers for whom celebrity portraiture functioned as a lucrative commodity. In a series of ambitious self-portraits, he stakes his claim to artistic excellence and personal fame. This book brings together contextual evidence such as preparatory studies, inscribed copies, and literary responses to illuminate the creation and reception of Rembrandt's etched portraits. His contribution to graphic portraiture emerges as a unique blend of innovative technique, thoughtful characterization, emulation of artistic tradition and bold competition with contemporary trends.

Stephanie S. Dickey received her PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, in 1994. She is associate professor of art history at Herron School of Art, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Her publications on Rembrandt and Dutch art of the seventeenth-century have appeared in the Art Bulletin, the Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek and elsewhere.

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Editorial Reviews

J.A. van der Veen
De betekenis van het boek is erin gelegen dat Dickey de prenten nauwgezet bespreekt en veel informatie verschaft over de afgebeelde personen. Van grote waarde is het in een appendix bijeengebrachte dichtwerk op Rembrandts portretetsen. Hierin zijn volledige transcripties van gedrukte en geschreven teksten bijeengebracht die alle adequaat van het Nederlands of Latijn in het Engels zijn vertaald. Jan Bloemendal heeft voor de vertaling van de Latijnse teksten zorg gedragen. In deze bijlage zijn allerlei nieuwe vondsten opgenomen. Wat daar wordt geboden, biedt aanknopingspunten voor nader onderzoek. Dit goed geschreven en aantrekkelijk vormgegeven boek bevat 178 afbeeldingen in zwart-wit waaraan veel zorg is besteed. Het register maakt het werk goed toegangkelijk.
Christopher White
Although relatively few in number - seventeen out of an oeuvre of about 350 - Rembrandt's portrait prints are, in terms of both technique and interpretation, among his most original works in the medium. They are distinct from his painted portraits, since almost invariably there is a personal connection between artist and sitter, often acknowledged by a more expansive setting. Apart from an excellent exhibition held at the Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam in 1986-87, they have never been treated separately. This situation has now been admirably remedied by Stephanie Dickey's exhaustive study. Developed from her thesis of ten years ago, the book is meticulously researched and well illustrated with a wide range of comparative material.
Catherine B. Scallen
This book is a subtle work of first-rate scholarship and cultural engagement, written in a lucid, approachable manner, yet revealing the depth of the author's knowledge an cultural engagement. The value of Dickey's book should not be defined a simply a fine contribution to our understanding of Rembrandt as a printmaker, though it certainly is this. Rather, it is a work of singular importance for our understanding of Rembrandt as an artist writ large, of his patrons, and of their shared culture, and should be required reading of anyone with a serious interest in Dutch art.
An Jensen Adams
Dickey offers a number of convincing new understandings of familiar works and leaves us with rich readings of these well-known but understudied masterpieces.
Larry Silver
With this meticulously researched study, Stephanie Dickey brings out her own portraits — of the human subjects and the viewing circumstances of Rembrandt's etched likenesses. In the process, she vividly clarifies both the art and the represented lives. Dickey restores Rembrandt to his own complex interactions with a diverse society and its cultural values in seventeenth-century Holland. Even as she situates his art within earlier visual traditions of the Netherlands as well as Italy, she also effectively locates these graphic portraits as part of a contemporary process of production, for an audience that includes Keizersgracht collectors along with a self-conscious "Dutch Parnassus" of poets and painters.
Tom Rassieur
Dickey's study is a serious and substantial contribution that provides a solid foundation for future studies of Rembrandt's portrait-making practice in all media and a model for students of other 17th -century bodies of portraiture.
Gary Schwartz
Stephanie Dickey has written an exceptionally stimulating book on Rembrandt's portrait etchings. Her patient and impressively thorough research has turned up much enlightening new information about the sitters and the etchings themselves, which she analyzes with great sensitivity. Of particular interest are her findings concerning the social standing and religious affiliations of these men. This tells us much about what their life was like when they were portrayed by Rembrandt, which in turn provides valuable clues for the interpretation of the portraits. A small gallery of 17th-century Dutchman comes off the sheet so we can examine them in the round. Rembrandt: Portraits in Print will be one of the first books to which future students of the etchings will turn.
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