Executed almost exclusively in drypoint, the work displays Rembrandt's sensitivity and dexterity to the medium. Realising the fragility of the drypoint technique, he knowingly printed a small edition which increased the rarity of each impression pulled. The printing plate was worked with enormous care and Rembrandt experimented with different inking effects to achieve different tonalities.
He created extraordinary results through the single use of this medium, with the drypoint lines creating an overall rich, velvety effect, for which this print is renowned. The sophisticated spectrum of tones and volumes in the composition was unparalleled at the time.
The fourth state (of five) is one of the most exciting states of this subject. This particular state differs drastically to the previous three states and was even thought to be a different plate until late in the eighteenth century. Rembrandt's use of a dense network of lines and sparser use of light imbues the present impression with a more dramatic and imposing atmosphere, as well as diverting attention from the remains of previous states.
As well as illustrating the virtuosity of Rembrandt's technical skills, the work also demonstrates his ability to capture emotional intensity in his subjects. Here, he chose to illustrate the moment of Christ just before his death on the cross, capturing his physical anguish and pain through the expression on his face.
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