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Posts Tagged ‘etchings’

Vengeance, Death, Blood, and Revenge

August 17, 2015 | by

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Act I, scene i

Titus Andronicus is a hideous play. Harold Bloom called it “a poetic atrocity”; Samuel Johnson refused to believe that Shakespeare was its author, writing that “the barbarity of the spectacles, and the general massacre, which are here exhibited, can scarcely be conceived tolerable to any audience … That Shakespeare wrote any part, though Theobald declares it incontestable, I see no reason for believing.” In its five grisly acts, fourteen people die; at least one is raped; throats are cut; hands, tongues, and heads are cut off; blood spurts “as from a conduit with three issuing spouts”; bodies are thrown to beasts and into pits, dragged into forests, buried alive chest-deep and left to starve; the bones of two men are ground “to powder small” and baked, with heads, into pies, which are then fed to their mother.

In other words, it’s one of those tragedies that was just crying out for an illustrated edition. Read More »

Etchings from Rembrandt

May 28, 2014 | by

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Rembrandt, Self Portrait in a Cap, Open-Mouthed, 1630

The Morgan Library has published a rich cache of Rembrandt’s etchings—nearly five hundred of them—in a new digital archive, a remarkable testament to his skills as a printmaker. (He was Rembrandt, after all.) The portraits are especially affecting: here are preachers, gold weighers, print sellers, a woman having her nails trimmed, many men in exotic plumed caps. My personal favorite, above, is Self Portrait in a Cap, Open-Mouthed, from 1630: what a pleasure to see the Dutch Master himself, flummoxed, staring just over the viewer’s right shoulder, from a distance of many centuries.

 

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