Inspired by: Rembrandt’s lines

Rembrandt has always fascinated us—not just in this Rembrandt Year, 350 years after his death, but down through the centuries. Rembrandt’s etchings have motivated artists in all kinds of ways. Our exhibition Inspired by Rembrandt – on view from 7 June until 1 September 2019–  explores his impact on their art.

This time we have dipped into our own collection, for the museum is not just his former home and workshop. For more than a hundred years it has also been collecting art on paper—the collection now contains more than 4,000 prints. And not just Rembrandts, but art by his followers—from his own time and contemporary artists. The exhibition is composed of eight stimulating themes; on our blog we’ll highlight each of the them individually.

This time: ‘The Line’.

Rembrandt’s knowledge of the power of the line was unequalled. He drew gnarled branches with a couple of strokes. A river bank with a single dash. Do you see the parallel lines in The Three Trees? They create a dramatic summer downpour. Rembrandt’s expressive line has been much imitated by other artists. The most impressive example is by the German artist Horst Janssen. In 1986 he made a series of twenty-four large etchings inspired by the quirky pollard willows in Rembrandt’s etching De Omval.


This twenty-four-part series of etchings by Horst Jansen is extremely ambitious. He magnified the pollard willows in Rembrandt’s etching De Omval and emphasized the dramatic effect of the curling twigs. The title alludes to a well-known Ancient Greek statuary group, in which the priest Laocoön and his sons wrestle with a giant serpent. Janssen also copied Rembrandt’s shadows. He placed them in the sky, not the bushes, making the entire scene more threatening and ominous.

Rembrandt, The three trees, 1643, The Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam  Horst Janssen, Laocoön 1, 2, 3 and 7, 1986, The Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam. Photo: Kirsten van Santen.

Recent Posts