Northern Ireland's Rembrandt etchings feature in post-lockdown exhibition

It is the first new exhibition to go on display at the Ulster Museum since it reopened in July following lockdown.

The first publicly owned Rembrandt artworks in Northern Ireland will grace the Ulster Museum’s post-lockdown display.

Six etchings, dating from the 1630s by the Dutch Master, made their way to the region following a deal struck over an outstanding tax bill.

The Belfast museum became the beneficiary of an agreement negotiated by the tax authorities to secure £150,000 owed to the Exchequer.

Two of the etchings made a brief appearance in December, but from Friday all six will be available to view in the exhibition: A Unique Silence: Welcoming Rembrandt’s etchings to the Ulster Museum Collection.

The south Belfast museum reopened to the public in July after several months of closure due to coronavirus regulations.

Anna Liesching, curator of art, National Museums NI, described the gift as “transformative” for the Ulster Museum as the first works by Rembrandt van Rijn to enter a public collection in Northern Ireland.

“Rembrandt was a tireless experimenter who brought many innovations to the art of etching,” she said.

Six etchings, dating from the c.1630s-50s, by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), and acquired for the nation through the HMRC’s acceptance in lieu scheme, are to make their Irish debut in the Ulster Museum’s newest exhibition since reopening after lockdown (Darren Kidd/PA)

“Through this experimentation he developed an incredible skill at capturing contrasts of light and shade, perfecting a method to create a strikingly atmospheric image.

“Though many of his paintings are associated with the dramatic and awe inspiring style of Baroque painting, Rembrandt’s etchings communicate a unique silence that is often found in the Golden Age of Dutch art.

“The etchings are on display with works from the wider Ulster Museum print collection.”

She added: “This gift immeasurably transforms the Ulster Museum collection, as these are the first works by Rembrandt to enter a public collection in Northern Ireland.

“We are very grateful to Arts Council England for this allocation from the acceptance in lieu scheme.”

The Rembrandt etchings on display (Darren Kidd/PA)
The Rembrandt etchings on display (Darren Kidd/PA)

The six etchings include: Bearded Man In A Furred Cap And Robe; The Artist’s Mother, Seated At A Table, Looking Right; The Sleeping Herdsman; Six’s Bridge; The Adoration Of The Shepherds: With The Lamp; and The Descent From The Cross By Torchlight.

The exhibition will open to the public on Friday September 25.

With public safety measures remaining in place at the museum, visitors are advised to pre-book tickets to guarantee a particular time slot on a preferred date at www.nmni.com.

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