Artist Alexander Massouras demonstrates how the techniques behind some of history’s greatest prints remain unchanged — almost 400 years on
‘In etching, you can achieve a quality of line that you can’t in any other medium,’ says artist Alexander Massouras, discussing the creative process behind a remarkable group of 50 etchings by Dutch master Rembrandt Van Rijn that were offered at Christie’s in July of 2016.
Renowned for his work in the medium, Rembrandt came to be recognised as one of the most accomplished printmakers of all time, producing works in intricate detail. ‘The lines follow the contours of what he depicts,’ comments Massouras, citing the individually-rendered hairs on a work such as Old Bearded Man Looking Down. ‘That detail is facilitated by etching.’
In our video, Massouras follows Rembrandt’s process in a modern-day print studio, using a technique that has varied very little since Rembrandt first began to make prints at the beginning of the 1600s. ‘A print like Self-Portrait with Saskia has a lot of variation in tone,’ he observes, explaining how the artist used acid to achieve depth.
‘Nothing rivals the crisp, sharp, black line of an etching,’ Massouras concludes. ‘In Rembrandt, there’s something compelling about that marriage of his ability to draw and the process of etching. There are very few people who can wield a drawing instrument with such alacrity.’