Posted in Art and Artists, Research & Reflection

Considering Rembrandt’s Etchings

I’ve been looking at Rembrandt’s etching to consider what I might learn from them, especially with respect to fine liner drawing. As an example of this I’ve decided to make some explicit notes with respect to “Adam and Eve.” There is a good level of analysis of the image available in general. I found an assertion that the serpent and part of the composition is inspired by an earlier Dürer interesting, here:

This was a selected, however, as an example of one of Rembrandt’s many etchings due to the range of tones and textures that have been achieved in the image. This is something I’m struggling to achieve with a fine liner, and thought that study of etchings may help. I mentioned the image in this context in my Notes for Part 4’s research.

What is it?

Rembrandt, Adam and Eve etching 1638.


162mm x 116 mm.

Featured image is from wikimedia commons.

A printed copy of this is available in Dover Art’s collection of Rembrandt etchings, which is partly where I have been looking at it. The image extracts below are for illustration. My first observation is that for the size of the image there is a lot in it. This is a detail medium.

The form on the serpent’s wing is interesting. The line of the ‘main’ shading follows contour of the wing curve, with a cross hatch following the line of the wing rib. The line of the ribs of the wing is also clearly part of rendering the form, but it mostly seems to be implied rather than drawn with an explicit line.


There is a good range of tone around Adam’s face, and the way that the hair has been given form with very few strokes is interesting. The dark of the hand’s shadow on the face is worthy of a close look. There is a similar approach with a lot of the interesting texture on the image: It is completed with relatively few “interesting” strokes rather than a mass of lines. I need practice and consider this with my fine liner work. To improve its “crispness” and “tonal range.”


2 thoughts on “Considering Rembrandt’s Etchings

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