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About the Plates | The Printers | The Edition |
Value of the Etchings | Images

The Opportunity to Conduct a Dialog with Rembrandt

By Marjorie Van Dyke, Printer of the Rembrandt Millennium Impressions

My experience printing these etchings from Rembrandt's copper plates carried both tremendous responsibility and honor. When Emiliano Sorini first approached me about this once-in-a-lifetime project, he mentioned only that it involved a few very old and valuable European etching plates. I was awestruck when Emiliano later told me that the etching plates were Rembrandt's copper plates.

Despite my many years of experience printing other etching plates, I must confess that initially I was intimidated by the very notion of handling Rembrandt's masterpieces. The first time I began the process of printing an impression of the Raising of Lazarus, I was overcome with the irrational fear that I would not be able to pull a recognizable proof because Rembrandt's copper etching plate is so priceless and weighted with such historical significance. I quickly realized, however, that the genius and integrity of Rembrandt's copper etching plates have survived the intervening centuries intact.

It is remarkable to actually handle Rembrandt's copper plates; I am amazed by Rembrandt's mastery of the very difficult technique of etching. For example, by virtue of the brilliance of his biting of the etching plates, Rembrandt allows the disciplined delicacy of lines to speak of the breath returning to Lazarus' body or to the wispiness of hair. Rembrandt achieved the deep richness of darkness by layer upon layer of redrawing and rebiting lines, instead of lengthy biting which would have coarsened the image. I have looked with care at fully inked plates under a loupe, and have also found some of Rembrandt's drawing mistakes which, because of his assurance in his composition, he felt no need to correct.

Emiliano and I discussed the changes in our perception of an etching plate after we learned to "know" the plate. This knowledge was acquired from our studies of the various state proofs of each plate, the opportunity to create impressions from the copper plates, and our direct observation of the drypoint and burin lines, burrs and nuances of the copper plates.

Oddly, once a printer "knows" a plate, one begins to understand how the artist would have wanted it printed because the plates themselves reveal how an etching should be printed. Because of Rembrandt's mastery of the chiaroscuro technique imparted to him by the work of Caravaggio, careful attention was paid to the lights and darks of the copper plates to avoid any over-wiping which may render the images more stark than Rembrandt intended.

In creating the eight original etchings, Emiliano and I felt as though we had been granted an opportunity to conduct a dialogue with Rembrandt, and we adhered faithfully to Rembrandt's intent, vision and printing technique. Over three hundred years after Rembrandt's death, his etching masterpieces still communicate to us and we are able to appreciate and value his visual vocabulary as part of our cultural heritage.

Background of the Millennium Impressions Copper Plates
Expert Printers of the Millennium Impressions
Millennium Impressions Edition
Prices for 17th Century and Posthumous Impressions of the Eight Images that Comprise the Millennium Impressions
The Millinneum Impressions Images

For more information on the Park West Rembrandt collection: (800)-521-9654 xt. 4 or (248) 354-2343.