Rembrandt created some 300 etchings and drypoints from about 1626 to 1665. Before Rembrandt's time the technique of engraving was more frequently used by printmakers than etching. His career as a printmaker ran parallel to his career as a painter - he rarely treated the same themes in both media and on only occasionally did he reproduce his paintings in prints. Above all, he was a great innovator and experimenter in this medium, often handling traditional materials in unconventional ways. His impact on printmaking is still reflected in etchings produced today.
Rembrandt's fame while he lived was greater as an etcher than as a painter (he did no engravings or woodcuts). The acknowledged master of the medium, he turned it into a wondrously flexible instrument of his art. Biblical themes, genre, landscapes, portraits, nudes, all these he found suitable for etching. As much in command of tools as of technique, Rembrandt sometimes employed even the V-shaped engraver's burin in his etchings, combining it with the fine etching needle and thicker dry point needle for richer pictorial effects.
The best of the existing catalogues of Rembrandt's etchings is that compiled by the Vienna curator Adam Bartsch in 1797. It is the standard catalogue, its numbering system is still the one most widely used in literature and printrooms.
External link related to Rembrandt's etchings: Rembrandt: Complete Etchings.
|Summary of works by Rembrandt|
|New Testament subjects | until 1639 | 1640s | 1650-60s|
|Passion of Christ | Old Testament subjects|
|Mythological subjects | Historical subjects|
|Portraits | until 1632 | 1633-39 | 1640s | 1650s | 1660s|
|Group portraits | Self-portraits|
|Landscapes | Miscellaneous subjects|
|Paintings in the style of Rembrandt (not by Rembrandt)|
|Etchings | Drawings|