The Unfinished Print: 3 June to 7 October 2001

Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch, 1606-1669
The Three Crosses, c. 1654
drypoint and engraving (state iv/v)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection 1943.3.7174

View state: i/v | iii/v | iv/v

Here Rembrandt transformed his original conception into something utterly haunting. Large areas are savagely scored out in drypoint and engraving. Christ's face is slightly lifted, as if to revive him in the moment of epiphany. John the Evangelist (to the right) raises his hands aloft, and the converted centurion kneeling before the cross bows his head. An equestrian figure in exotic headgear, almost certainly Pilate, looms ominously in the half-light supplanting the earlier group to the left. The condemned thief at right is completely shrouded by night. It is the ninth hour, and with the shuddering of an earthquake a pall of darkness has descended over the land. In effect the fourth state is an entirely different work forged on the same plate, as if Rembrandt had to deface and reform the matrix of the copper in order to revolutionize his initial idea.

Copyright ©2001 National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
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