Cottages and Farm Building with a Man Sketching, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
Etching, roughly 5 x 8 in. (13 x 21 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum, which has both a zoomable and downloadable version of the image on their site.
Remarkable though they may be, Rembrandt’s etchings of Biblical scenes are somewhat formal and tightly composed. Sale of those etchings was an important part of Rembrandt’s stock in trade an an artist.
His etchings of landscapes, however, seem an extension of his apparent love of sketching on location; they carry much of the relaxed and confident charm of his landscape drawings.
In these etchings, like his reed pen landscape drawings, I get a sense of pleasure in the act of drawing — the fun of hatching in the dark tones, the joy of his needle scratching across the plate, searching out the gestural shapes of the tree and the animals, and the quiet satisfaction of spending time out sketching the countryside with another artist.