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Rembrandt von Rijn (1606-69), The Three Crosses
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Еhe Вritish museum holds many images of the Crucifixion from Christian art across the world. This example is also one of the Dutch artist Rembrandt’s most formidable masterpieces as a printmaker. The drypoint print illustrates the moment of Christ’s death, when ‘there was darkness over the whole land’ (Mark 15:33). A flood of supernatural lights illuminates the ground immediately around the cross. Dark shadows fill the four corners, and the figures hurrying away in the foreground are silhouetted against the brightness.

Rembrandt printed so many prints from the original copper plate he engraved for this print that the surface wore away. He then re-engraved the plate three times, so there are four different versions or ‘states’ of this image. For this, the fourth and final state, he drastically reworked the surface to produce a very different image. The extraordinary painterly effects he achieved with this fourth state must have astonished his contemporaries and have rarely been rivaled since.

Rembrandt von Rijn (1606-69), The Three Crosses

From The Netherlands, signed and dated AD 1653
Ht 38.7 cm

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