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The Detailed Lines of Rembrandt’s Etchings

The etching process allowed a whole new level of detail.

When Rembrandt van Rijn made his etchings, he was able to execute a whole new level of detail that wouldn’t be possible with just pen and paper.

Etchings are made by carving lines into a metal plate, then inking said plate and pressing it onto paper to achieve a print. Because etchings are carved and printed, rather than drawn on paper, the artist can execute highly detailed lines. In this video from Christie’s, we see contemporary printmaker Alexander Massouras analyze the diversity of Rembrandt’s lines and how they create different textures in the same work of art—something Rembrandt was a master at. We also get to see the etching process firsthand.