Support: Laid paper
Sheet: 37.5 x 44 cm (14 3/4 x 17 5/16 in.)
Bequest of Ralph King and Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1959.241
Catalogue raisonné: Hollstein 78 (XVIII.43)
Rembrandt’s Christ Crucified Between the Two Thieves is executed entirely in drypoint. Because of the delicacy of the technique, the copper plate was worn after the artist printed about 40 impressions of the first three states. In order to continue using the plate, Rembrandt reworked it, changing the image somewhat. In this fourth state, slashing strokes obscure the spectators visible in the earlier version, creating a tenebrous setting that focuses attention on Christ bathed in celestial light. Although drypoint is an inherently linear medium, Rembrandt used it to obtain tonal qualities associated with painting. The blackness becomes an active force that threatens to extinguish the light of Christ—a literal illustration of the Evangelist Luke’s description of the event that brought "a darkness over all the earth."
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