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In celebration of Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn’s 400th birthday, the Williams Center for the Arts Gallery will exhibit portraits, scenes of everyday life, and historical and biblical narrative etchings March 19-April 30, and present a series of related lectures and concert. The etchings are loaned courtesy of the Dr. and Mrs. Morton M. Mower Collection.

A superb draftsman, Rembrandt (1606-1669) is acknowledged as one of the foremost masters of etching, creating prints that have the freedom and spontaneity of drawing. He is known to have completed over 300 prints.

Although renowned as a painter, Rembrandt was widely known in his day through his etchings. Artists, including Rembrandt, created prints — woodcuts, etchings, or engravings – that were distributed by publishers through books or broadsides, or by the artists themselves. The print medium was the means by which pictorial representations of faraway places, historical and biblical events, and scenes of everyday life were widely disseminated to the public. In the spirit of making Rembrandt’s etchings widely seen by today’s audiences, the Mowers decided to lend their collection for exhibition. Having started about five years ago, the couple now has over 60 Rembrandt etchings, in addition to works by artists who work “in the school” of Rembrandt.

The exhibition has been organized by Aaron Young, The Halcyon Group, London, United Kingdom.

Also in the gallery is “Early Imprints from the Low Countries, ” a small selection of 16th and 17th century imprints from the rare book collection of Skillman Library, in conjunction with the Rembrandt etchings. Included are two works from the famed Plantin Press of Antwerp, Europe’s leading printing establishment ca. 1550-1750. Two additional books come from the Amsterdam press of Jan Jansson, who earned distinction as a map publisher and who, along with the Blaeu family, helped make the Dutch the preeminent mapmakers of Europe during the age of Rembrandt.

The exhibition has become the catalyst for a series of related lectures and programs. The following at Williams Center for the Arts are free and open to the public:

Monday, March 27, noon: “The Dutch Religious Landscape Around 1600,” brown bag lecture by Andrew Fix, Charles A. Dana Professor and head of history, in a room to be determined. He will talk about reform within the Dutch church from the Middle Ages to 1560 and religious pluralism circa 1600.

Monday, April 3, noon: “Reading, Writing, and Playing: Music Printing in the 17th Century,” brown bag lecture by Jorge Torres, professor of music, in room 123. Music printing in 17th century musical centers made a gradual shift from moveable type to engraving on copper and pewter plates because of social and political demands as well as the technical needs of musicians. Examining manuscript production of the period reveals that moveable type was no longer capable of conveying the notational nuance of engraved music.

Monday, April 10, noon: “Music in Holland from the Age of Rembrandt,” a concert of 17th century Dutch music by The Practitioners of Musick, Eugene Roan, harpsichord, and John Burkhalter, recorder, in the theater. Works by the following composers will be included: Jan Pieteszoon Sweelinck, Jacob van Eyck, Paulus Matthysz, Adriaen Valerius, Anthoni van Noordt, as well as Suzanne van Soldt and Isabella Reijnders, who were skilled players of the harpsichord.

Tuesday, April 11, 4 p.m.: Keynote lecture, “New Jerusalem: Rembrandt, Christians, and Jews,” annual Carol P. Dorian ’79 Memorial Lecture in Art History, by Larry Silver, Farquhar Professor of Art History, University of Pennsylvania, a specialist in painting and graphics of Northern Europe, in the auditorium. The event is sponsored by the art department.A reception for the exhibition, the Mowers, Silver, and the Dorians follows the lecture.

In the etching process, the image is drawn onto a resin- or wax-covered copper or zinc plate that is then immersed in acid, which creates tiny depressions of the image onto the metal plate that are later filled with ink.

Rembrandt achieved a wide range of tonal variations and textures though expert use of his etching tool, experimenting with the length of time the copper plate was immersed in acid (longer time in the acid bath creates deeper lines which hold more ink, and result in a darker line), and sometimes using drypoint, a technique that does not use acid. In drypoint etching, lines are scratched directly onto the plate, allowing the creation of fine detail; the metal burr raised by the tool is usually left on the plate, producing a rich, velvety texture.

Williams Center Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday; 2-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, as well as noon-5 p.m. the first Sunday of each month for First Sunday Easton; 7:30-9:30 p.m. on the evenings of Williams Center performances; and by appointment. For more information, call the gallery at (610) 330-5361 or email Additional information about the Williams Center Gallery program can be found by visiting its web site.

The Williams Center Gallery is funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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