Virgin and Child in the Clouds

Rembrandt Van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), 1641
Etching and drypoint
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward W. Lane III

In seventeenth-century Holland, Rembrandt was the most inventive printmaker since Albrecht Dürer. While looking to the work of his predecessors (he collected prints by Dürer, Lucas van Leiden, and Jacques Callot among others), Rembrandt drew on tradition only in order to transform it through his own intrepidly experimental etching technique. The model for the Virgin and Child in the Clouds is an etching of ca. 1581 by the Italian painter Federico Barocci, but Rembrandt has translated it into his own vernacular. Characteristically revealing his working methods, he left his initial attempt at the composition—the upside down face at the Virgin’s knee—in plain view.