It is timely that Christopher White has chosen to revise his study of Rembrandt's etching 30 years after it was first published. This second edition of what quickly became an authoritative text incorporates critical reaction to its predecessor as well as the continuing scholarship of the Rembrandt Research Project. There have been 16 catalogues raisonnés of the artist's prints and innumerable exhibition publications, making his etchings the most catalogued works of art in the world, but few other books have considered "how" as well as "what" and set the works in a historical and personal context. White, a leading authority on 17th-century Dutch and Flemish art who edited Rembrandt by Himself
, is the ideal man for the job. The line "Would you like to see my etchings?" has never sounded so appealing.
White divides his attention into six considerable chapters: technique, history, portraiture, genre, nudes, and landscape. The most valuable, and groundbreaking, is the first, in which his explanations of Rembrandt's working methods and techniques give the illusion of peering over the artist's shoulder, such is the vividness with which details of biting, drypoint, and choice of papers come alive in his accessible and learned prose. The patient care invested in not just assembling but attractively presenting the images mirrors the attentions of the etcher, who undertakes a painstaking process with a slow-burning excitement, always with the uncertainty of the end product--something for which Rembrandt's temperament seemed entirely suited. In his later life he abandoned his habit of careful pre-planning and allowed the means to influence the ends. This flexibility was entirely characteristic of Rembrandt as an artist across the board; never afraid to experiment, he had reasons for working that were as pragmatic as they were visionary, and prints were the most successful reproductive propagandists for their maker's art. White's book, as luxurious to handle as to study or peruse, is still the definitive standard by which evaluation of Rembrandt's etchings and their relationship with his drawings and paintings must be judged. It is definitively art history at its most rewarding and enthralling. --David Vincent, Amazon.co.uk
This book will surely be hailed as a pioneering effort. It deserves to be widely read -- by scholars, the general public and, not least, by artists. There is no mumbo-jumbo about Mr White's treatment of his theme. It is written with a touch only found when the author has something of the artistic temperament in his nature.Apollo