Toledo Museum Home

The Dramatic Image: Baroque Prints of the 17th Century

Rembrandt van Rijn
Dutch, 1606–1669

The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds

Etching, engraving, and drypoint, 1634
William J. Hitchcock Fund in memory of Grace J. Hitchcock, 1983.65

A spectacular tour de force and Rembrandt’s first print of a night scene, The Angel Appearing to the Shepherdsshows the artist taking the pictorial possibilities of etching farther than he had yet attempted. The scene is built up with a fine mesh of cross-hatching; there are no outlines, only areas of shadow of varying intensity. The elaborate technique and the dramatically arranged composition make this the artist’s most successful expression of the Baroque style.In this particular impression the light-filled interaction between heavenly apparition and the terrified figures below works dramatically. The landscape remains black and mysterious, strongly contrasting with the angelic messenger.