Taking It to The Streets

The hidden Rembrandt: Drawings from the Master oil painter get their due at MFAH

The hidden Rembrandt: Drawings from the Master oil painter get their due at MFAH

News_MFAH_Rembrandt_drawings_show_April 2012_Doomer_Two Bactrian Camels
Lambert Doomer, Two Bactrian Camels in a River Landscape, c. 1672, brown ink and brown and gray wash on antique laid paper, Maida and George Abrams Collection, Boston, Mass. Photo by Katya Kallsen/© President and Fellows of Harvard College
News_MFAH_Rembrandt_drawings_show_April 2012_Rembrandt_Four Studies of Male Head
Rembrandt van Rijn, Four Studies of Male Heads, c. 1636, brown ink and brown wash on antique laid paper, Maida and George Abrams Collection, Boston, Mass. Photo by Allan Macintyre/© President and Fellows of Harvard College
News_MFAH_Rembrandt_drawings_show_April 2012_Backer_Seated Female Nude
Jacob Adriaensz Backer, 1608/9–1651, Seated Female Nude, 1648, black and white chalk on blue paper, Maida and George Abrams Collection, Boston, Mass. Photo by Allan Macintyre/© President and Fellows of Harvard College
News_MFAH_Rembrandt_drawings_show_April 2012_Maes_Man Seated in His Study
Nicolaes Maes, Dutch, Man Seated in His Study, 1640s-'50s, brown ink and brown wash on cream antique laid paper, Maida and George Abrams Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Photo by Katya Kallsen/© President and Fellows of Harvard College
News_MFAH_Rembrandt_drawings_show_April 2012_Eeckhout_Woman Doing Handwork
Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, Woman Doing Handwork, c. 1670, brown ink and brown wash on cream antique laid paper, Maida and George Abrams Collection, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Photo by Katya Kallsen/© President and Fellows of Harvard College
News_MFAH_Rembrandt_drawings_show_April 2012_Doomer_Two Bactrian Camels
News_MFAH_Rembrandt_drawings_show_April 2012_Rembrandt_Four Studies of Male Head
News_MFAH_Rembrandt_drawings_show_April 2012_Backer_Seated Female Nude
News_MFAH_Rembrandt_drawings_show_April 2012_Maes_Man Seated in His Study
News_MFAH_Rembrandt_drawings_show_April 2012_Eeckhout_Woman Doing Handwork

"When most people think of Rembrandt, they think of his oil paintings," prints and drawings curator Dena Woodall told CultureMap on a tour of an exhibition exploring the Dutch master's work on paper at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "His drawings and output as a printmaker, however, had a very long-reaching effect on artists and collectors well into the 19th and 20th century."

On view in the museum's Beck Building through July 8, Drawings by Rembrandt, His Students, and Circle showcases nearly 50 works — eight of which are by the artist himself — to examine the essential role of drawing in Rembrandt's studio and its influence on his followers.

"He had an amazing way of capturing those pivotal moments of expression and emotion. Other artists were very attracted to t his manner in which he approached and portrayed life."

"This show focuses on the artist drawing the world around him," Woodall said. "These works aren't thought of as preparatory drawings for larger paintings, but were used by Rembrandt and his circle to capture everyday life."

The first of two galleries in the exhibition looks to the human form, with examples of portraits and figure studies from Rembrandt's early career in Leiden, before he relocated his studio to Amsterdam and began accepting students. The artist and his pupils tended to look for subjects in the thriving, diverse neighborhoods of Amsterdam, which teemed with activity as one of Europe's most prosperous cities during the 17th century.

"He had an amazing way of capturing those pivotal moments of expression and emotion," Woodall said, motioning to a section of Biblical and historical scenes. "Other artists were very attracted to this manner in which he approached and portrayed life."

The second gallery concentrates on landscapes drawn en plein air beyond the studio walls and the confines of bustling Amsterdam. Rembrandt and his entourage render the vast openness of the flat Dutch terrain with pops of intricately-detailed cottages and people that subtly animate the scene.

Drawings by Rembrandt, His Students, and Circle is organized by the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Conn. and features works on paper by renowned Dutch Golden Age painters like Jacob Backer, Ferdinand Bol, Govaert Flinck, Samuel van Hoogstraten, Jan Lievens and Nicolaes Maes. The exhibit is accompanied by a full catalog published by Yale University Press.