Rembrandt Self-Portrait Leaning on a Stone Sill Transmitted light photograph enlarged detail showing Basilisk watermark Yale University Art Gallery

This Exhibition Has Ended

September 23, 2017
December 17, 2017
In the Bartels Gallery, Floor 1L

Rembrandt’s etchings, long treasured for their innovation and perceptive portrayal of the human psyche, continue to inspire a wide range of audiences and admirers, including scientists and engineers. Encouraging close looking at these masterworks in the context of collection building and new scientific approaches, this multifaceted exhibition will highlight Rembrandt’s scope and subtlety as an etcher.

More than sixty impressions from across Rembrandt’s oeuvre show the artist’s process, including how he made changes to his plates, and detail his use of a variety of printing supports. Works from the collections of Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Syracuse, and Yale Universities, Oberlin and Vassar Colleges, the University of Kansas, the Morgan Library & Museum, and private collections feature subject matter ranging from portraits and self-portraits to genre scenes, religious narratives, landscapes, study plates, and academic nude studies.

The accompanying catalogue incorporates new research and initiatives that examine the status of the printmaker, including an overview of Rembrandt print collecting by American academic collections, an account of Oberlin’s secret guardianship of the Morgan’s Rembrandt prints during World War II, and an introduction to Cornell’s Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings (WIRE) project, a collaboration among museums, faculty, and students dedicated to digitally facilitating access to Rembrandt watermark scholarship. The chapter “Decision Trees and Fruitful Collaborations: The Watermark Identification in Rembrandt's Etchings (WIRE) Project at Cornell,” by Andrew C. Weislogel with C. Richard Johnson, Jr., with contributions from students (pages 32-57) is available here as a PDF.

The catalogue was awarded the College Art Association’s 2019 Alfred H. Barr Jr. Book Award for Smaller Museums, Libraries, Collections, and Exhibitions, and the 2018 Henry Allen Moe Prize for Catalogues of Distinction in the Arts, and also received an honorable mention for the 2018 International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA) Book Award.

Lines of Inquiry was organized in collaboration with the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, where it was on view February 6–May 13, 2018.

A symposium, “Learning and Teaching with Rembrandt: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to the Master Etcher,” was held on October 28, 2017, at the Johnson Museum. (Recordings are available on CornellCast: Part 1 and Part 2)


This exhibition was cocurated by Andrew C. Weislogel, the Seymour R. Askin, Jr. ’47 Curator of Earlier European and American Art at the Johnson, and Andaleeb Badiee Banta, curator of European and American art at the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

Major funding for the exhibition has been provided by Dale Reis Johnson ’58 and Dick Johnson ’57; Seymour R. Askin, Jr. ’47; Nelson Schaenen, Jr., ’50 and Nancy Schaenen; Joseph W. Simon ’80, Leslie Simon Knibb ’85, and Ernest F. Steiner ’63 in honor of Vera C. Simon ’55. Additional support has been provided by Malcolm Whyte ’55 and Karen Whyte, and a gift endowed in memory of Elizabeth Miller Francis ’47.