300+ Etchings by Rembrandt Now Free Online, Thanks to the Morgan Library & Museum


Sev­en­teenth-cen­tu­ry Dutch painter Rem­brandt van Rijn may have more name recog­ni­tion than near­ly any oth­er Euro­pean artist, his pop­u­lar­i­ty due in large part to what art his­to­ri­an Ali­son McQueen iden­ti­fies in her book of the same name as “the rise of the cult of Rem­brandt.” Pop­u­lar Rem­brandt ven­er­a­tion brought us in the 20th cen­tu­ry such cor­po­rate appro­pri­a­tions of the painter’s lega­cy as Rem­brandt tooth­paste and mon­ey mar­ket firm Rem­brandt Funds (par­tic­u­lar­ly iron­ic, “giv­en the noto­ri­ety of Rembrandt’s bank­rupt­cy in 1656”). “In con­tem­po­rary pop­u­lar cul­ture,” writes McQueen, “Rembrandt’s name has such res­o­nance that the head­line of an arti­cle in the New York Times Mag­a­zine in 1995 referred to the trendy bar­ber Franky Avi­la as ‘the Rem­brandt of Bar­bers.’”

By invok­ing Rembrandt’s name, the author knew his read­ers would under­stand that this con­nec­tion implies that Avila’s skill with a razor equals that of Rembrandt’s with his paint­brush or etch­ing nee­dle… even if a read­er has nev­er actu­al­ly seen any work by Rem­brandt.

Indeed, though any per­son on the street will like­ly know the artist’s name, most would be hard-pressed to name any of his paint­ings, except per­haps his well-known self-por­traits, which have adorned t‑shirts, posters, and iPhone cas­es. I might not have known much more about Rem­brandt than those self-por­traits either had I not lived in Wash­ing­ton, DC, where I had free access to many of his paint­ings at the Nation­al Gallery of Art.  The Dutch mas­ter was aston­ish­ing­ly pro­lif­ic, paint­ing, draw­ing, and etch­ing hun­dreds of por­traits of him­self and his patrons, as well as hun­dreds of still lifes, land­scapes, scenes from mythol­o­gy, and many, many Bib­li­cal sub­jects.

Rembrandt Mother

Nowa­days, you can see Rembrandt’s paint­ings for free online, whether from the Nation­al Gallery of Art’s col­lec­tion, that of the Nation­al Gallery in Lon­don, or of the Dutch Rijksmu­se­um. And for anoth­er side of his genius, you can now go to the site of New York’s Mor­gan Library and Muse­um, who have dig­i­tized “almost 500 images from the Morgan’s excep­tion­al col­lec­tion of Rem­brandt etch­ings,” cel­e­brat­ing his “unsur­passed skill and inven­tive­ness as a mas­ter sto­ry­teller.” There are, of course, plen­ty of self-por­traits, like the 1630 “Self Por­trait in a Cap, Open-Mouthed” at the top of the post, and there are por­traits of oth­ers, like that of the artist’s moth­er, above, from 1633. There are reli­gious scenes like the 1655 “Abraham’s Sac­ri­fice” below, and land­scapes like “The Three Trees,” fur­ther down, from 1643.


Rembrandt Three Trees

These are the four main cat­e­gories that the Mor­gan uses to orga­nize this impres­sive col­lec­tion, but you’ll also find there more hum­ble, domes­tic sub­jects, like the 1640 “Sleep­ing Pup­py,” below. Writes Hyper­al­ler­gic, “The Mor­gan holds in its col­lec­tion most of the rough­ly 300 known etch­ings by Rem­brandt, includ­ing rare, mul­ti­ple ver­sions (hence the dis­crep­an­cy in num­ber of etch­ings ver­sus num­ber of images.)” Like his high­ly accom­plished paint­ings, Rembrandt’s etch­ings “are famous for their dra­mat­ic inten­si­ty, pen­e­trat­ing psy­chol­o­gy, and touch­ing human­i­ty,” as well as, of course, for the extra­or­di­nary skill with which the artist made these works of art. Thanks to the “cult of Rem­brandt,” we all know the artist’s name and rep­u­ta­tion; now, thanks to dig­i­tal col­lec­tions from Nation­al Gal­leries, the Rijksmu­se­um, and now the Mor­gan, we can become experts in his work as well.


Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load 35,000 Works of Art from the Nation­al Gallery, Includ­ing Mas­ter­pieces by Van Gogh, Gau­guin, Rem­brandt & More

Late Rem­brandts Come to Life: Watch Ani­ma­tions of Paint­ings Now on Dis­play at the Rijksmu­se­um

A Final Wish: Ter­mi­nal­ly Ill Patients Vis­it Rembrandt’s Paint­ings in the Rijksmu­se­um One Last Time

Rijksmu­se­um Dig­i­tizes & Makes Free Online 210,000 Works of Art, Mas­ter­pieces Includ­ed!

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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