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ETCHING Self-portrait Leaning
The etching is available without (w.m.) or with a mount. The mount is cream coloured, 30 x 40 cm.
Self-portrait, leaning on a stone sill (B21), 1639.
Etching and drypoint, state II(2).
The image size is 20.5 x 16.4 cm.
Here Rembrandt has depicted himself as a grand-seigneur. The striking pose - body in profile, face turned towards the spectator and left arm resting on a balustrade - is borrowed from 'Ariosto' in the portrait by Titian. At the time, this painting was in Amsterdam, where it was part of the collection of Alfonso Lopez. While he worked on the etching Rembrandt would also certainly have had Raphael's famous portrait of Baldassare Castiglione in mind. That painting was auctioned in Amsterdam in 1639, when it too was acquired by Lopez. Rembrandt did a sketch of it on that occasion. Perhaps here Rembrandt is competing with the Italian Masters, demonstrating his equality with them. A year later he made a painted version of this portrait.
Handprinted etching: how do we make the most beautiful reproductions of Rembrandt's etchings? First the etching is photographed. The best photograph is transferred to a copper plate which is covered with a special layer to make it sensitive to light. All the unexposed areas in this layer where black lines occur can then be washed away. The copper is exposed and grooves are created when the plate is subsequently immersed in a bath of acid. While looking through a stereomicroscope the engraver cuts the lines in the plate by hand. He uses a sharp burin and works with meticulous care, constantly comparing his work with the original, following the hand of Rembrandt. Once the plate is ready, it can be printed. The printing is done by hand. The final result comes very close to Rembrandt's original. It is as if the master himself has been at work.