Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, 1606–1669)
Etching, drypoint, and engraving; second state of four
Gift of Henry Walters, by exchange, 1923 (23.51.7)
The startling difference between this impression and the impression of the first state (20.46.17) has less to do with the many hatched lines Rembrandt added to the composition in the second state than with the veil of ink he left on the copperplate as it was printed. This ink turns the previously brightly lit scene into a dark one in which only the faces and hands of the central figures are illuminated. By initially leaving this tone on the copperplate and wiping away the ink only where he wanted to leave touches of light, Rembrandt printed both the etched lines and the layer of ink left on the surface. As a result of this exceptional painting of the plate before printing, each impression Rembrandt pulled was unique.