Arts & Humanities

21st-century students get inspired by 17th-century art

Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 – 1669), “Self-Portrait in a Velvet Cap with Plume,” 1638. Etching. Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Dr. and Mrs. S. William Pelletier. GMOA 1984.43.

The exhibition “Reflecting on Rembrandt: 500 Years of Etching,” will be on view at the Georgia Museum of Art from Jan. 18 to April 19, which coincides with the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death.

The exhibition was curated by two classes at University of Georgia Lamar Dodd School of Art and includes prints selected from the museum’s collection as well as some created by the students, both commemorating Rembrandt’s profound impact as a printmaker.

In the fall, UGA students in ARHI 4310/6310 Northern Baroque Art (taught by Shelley Zuraw) and ARST 3315 Printmaking: Etching (taught by Mark Callahan) first repeatedly visited the museum’s collections, looking at prints in its rich collection of works on paper. The printmaking students then created prints using the same techniques Rembrandt employed in the 17th century. For most students in ARST 3315, the works in this exhibition represent some of their first efforts with this demanding medium and a response to the tradition of viewing Rembrandt as a guide and standard of achievement.

Students in ARHI 4310/6310 then combined these contemporary works with prints by Rembrandt, his peers and his followers. Their choices reveal both Rembrandt’s own interests in technique and composition as well as the impact he had on other artists

Brian Wilkerson, “Self-Portrait, Frowning,” 2019. Etching and drypoint. Collection of the artist.

Zuraw remembers being excited about art history when she was a student, which contributes in part to why she loves teaching the subject. “I can remember the first art history class I took and my eyes just exploding when I saw these wonderful things, and I want [students] to have that same experience,” Zuraw said.

Nelda Damiano, the museum’s Pierre Daura Curator of European Art, says “We always welcome the opportunity to offer UGA student in-person experiences with works of art. This project, led by Professor Zuraw and Professor Callahan, perfectly integrated the museum’s collection with their syllabus, prompted many visits by the students to our study room, stimulating conversations and research, and gave them a sense of how an exhibition is put together.”

Related events include:

  • 90 Carlton: Winter, the museum’s quarterly reception, on Jan. 30 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. ($15, $10 for Friends of the museum and supporters, free for current members; galleries open until 9:30 p.m.) and
  • A gallery discussion with the students, focusing on Rembrandt’s development and fame as an etcher, on Feb. 6 at 5:30 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.