This etching titled "Christ Preaching" is a powerful image. Originally completed by Rembrandt in 1652, it is a grand example of the engraver’s art, but just one of many of Rembrandt's work reproduced over the years.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (Dutch-Born July 15, 1606 – Died October 4, 1669) is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history and the most important in the period that historians call the Dutch Golden Age. While most of us could never afford an original “Old Master” Oil painting by Rembrandt, other forms of art such as etchings by the master are another thing all together. It is still possible to buy an original authenticated Rembrandt etching produced during his working life for under the price of a new compact car, but from there it gets into the murky realm of restrikes of his work and reproductions.
There are no etchings more of a problem to appraise and authenticate than Rembrandt’s. Rembrandt made over three hundred prints altogether, covering a wide variety of subjects such as portraits, landscapes and nudes. There were at least two editions during his life and five after his death. Other copies of his work or after his style can date back to Rembrandt’s own period, but the bulk of them are the work of etchers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The vast majority of these copies differ substantially in style from the originals in most cases with the exception of the work of one man, Amand Durand.
The engraver Durand (1831-1905), spent a large part of his working life re-creating Rembrandt’s etchings in very fine detail. Unlike other artists, instead of basing his copies on old worn plates or reworking them, Durand used fine quality originals of the first and second state etchings of Rembrandt’s works. Durand’s original etchings were so detailed and true to the originals that they were purchased by the Louvre Museum in Paris, the French Biblioteque Nationale and by major collectors throughout Europe and the USA.
After Durand’s death in 1905, his original copper plates were obtained by the French firm of book publishers, Dominique Vincent et Cie. They mainly published the works for book illustrations to the Bibliotheque Nationale and the Louvre as duplications of Rembrandt’s etchings, but art prints were also apparently produced from Durand’s original plates as well, and in some cases later being mistaken for the originals.
In 1985 an American art dealer purchased all the original Durand copper plates from the Dominique Vincent family. Today the American Fine Art Editions company is still printing Durand’s copies from his copper plates, and you can get these latest printings of Durand vision of Rembrandt’s work for $120-$200.
Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.
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