The Erotic Art of Rembrandt van Rijn
Rembrandt van Rijn (15 July 1606 - 4 October 1669) was a Dutch painter and draftsman during the Dutch Golden Age. He is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history and the most important in Dutch history.
Most are familiar with his paintings, and his portraits in particular, but Rembrandt was a master of many mediums including draftsmanship and etching.
Etching is a print making technique where a copper plate's surface is scratched using a sharp implement in a similar shape to a pencil. The plate is then carefully covered in ink and then pressed onto paper to produce an image. It sounds simple, but to be a master etcher requires the skills of a master draftsmans, and more, for it take great skill to then produce the finest prints.
Rembrandt produced many etching during his career and unlike other etchers who would pass on the job of producing prints, he preferred to produce his own prints and experimented with many different techniques. One of these techniques was, instead of wiping the ink off the plate completely before producing the next print, Rembrandt would leave a very fine layer of ink in certain areas. This produced gray areas between the lines and gave the etching more depth using shadow.
Perhaps the most controversial of his etchings he made after the death of his wife Saskia in 1642. During this time Rembrandt's career was in turmoil. He was quickly losing favor with his elite clientèle as he digressed ever further from the conventions of high art with his casual poses with an arguably unfinished quality. Perhaps out of need for money he made these daring, blatantly sexual, etchings.
Regardless of the mastery of his craft, perhaps the world still wasn't ready for such explicitly erotic imagery. Even to this day many of his erotic etching remain hidden in a store room of the British Museum, away from public view, with the exception of an exhibition at the British Museum that shocked the London art scene in 2001.
Several of Rembrandt's erotic etchings can now be seen at the World Erotic Art Museum in Miami, Florida.