Shimmerings of Light, Mysteries of Shadow: The Etching Revival of the 19th Century

September 24, 2011 - November 27, 2011

Etching, the process of drawing on and printing from copper plates, emerged as an important art form in the 17th century, reaching its pinnacle in the expressive works of Rembrandt. Subsequently, etching fell into decline but experienced a revival in the middle of the 19th century, when younger artists sought more personal forms of expression. They discovered that etching was ideally suited to capture the moods and textures of contemporary landscapes, both urban and rural. Drawing directly from nature rather than in the studio, etchers were the forefront of the dramatic changes that came to define 19th-century art.

This exhibition focuses on the artists of the “etching revival,” including such masters of the medium as James McNeill Whistler, Charles Meryon, and Samuel Palmer. The works, drawn from the rich print collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, illustrate how etching, which required the artist to use line alone, introduced a new way of both drawing and perceiving the world.

Up Close Series

In conjunction with the exhibition, a 3-week lecture/demo program will be offered in October (10/13, 10/20. and 10/27) as part of the Up Close series. Barbs, Beauty, and the Bite of the Print: James Whistler and the Etching Revival will focus on Whistler’s colorful character and creative genius, as well as explore the subjects and styles of 19th-century etchers. Taught by Greg Waskowsky, the KIA’s Associate Curator of Collections, the program will also include a demonstration of how etchings are created and printed. For more information on the Up Close series, click here.

Rodolphe Bresdin, Le marché aux parasols (Parade of Umbrellas), 1866, etching
Charles Meryon, St. Etienne-du-Mont, Paris, 1852, etching James Abbott McNeill Whistler, La Rétameuse (The Tinker), 1857, etching  James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Rotherhithe, 1860, etching and drypoint