‘Rembrandt in person,’ ‘Breugel in company’ at Warsaw National Museum

Visitors to Warsaw National Museum have a unique opportunity to see “Rembrandt in person” and “Bruegel in company” in two exhibitions of their work on the 350th and the 450th anniversary of their deaths.

Talking about the “Rembrandt in person” and “Breugel in company” exhibitions, the museum director Professor Jerzy Miziołek called the collection “special,” adding that it “has never been presented in this way. If you look through the book that we have published on this occasion, you will discover that this is, in a way, a unique collection in the world.”

Joanna Tomacka, the exhibitions’ curator, said that both Rembrandt and Breugel “were interested in etchings. They were both involved in printmaking but in a completely different way, hence the duality, hence our will to create two different realities for both artists.”

Unlike Breugel, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn approached etchings as an autonomous medium not only working on them himself but also experimenting with the printing process, ever expanding technical possibilities to represent his artistic concepts.

Rembrandt’s etchings embrace a broad scale of themes, ranging through genre from biblical scenes to nudes. “Rembrandt had no equal in the portrayal of human emotions, in the expression of psychological nuances. His etchings are characterised by a constant search for new means of picturing chiaroscuro of his composition on a scale ranging from white through the most subtle shades of grey to black.”

Mr Miziołek told PolandIN that “in the case of Rembrandt, we have some 70 big engravings and most of them are true masterpieces.”

Regarding Pieter Bruegel the Elder, it is said that he created only one etching, namely “Rabbit Hunt.” Nevertheless, he designed draft-etchings that were to be processed and printed by professional etchers. The exhibition at Warsaw National Museum hosts 30 etchings and the said “Rabbit Hunt.”

“The pieces dealing with variegated topics depict pioneering solutions in landscape art while others are allegorical and universal tales of the world around. Genre scenes usher the beholder into the reality of the artist embodied by markets, indulgence and the everyday life of the countryside. Wit, poignant remarks/observations and technical skills rendered and keep rendering Bruegel one of the most favoured artists among art connoisseurs and the broader public.”

Peeking at what’s big next year

The opening of the exhibitions also served as an opportunity to divulge Warsaw National Museum’s 2020 agenda. Mr Miziołek said that given the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw, which was a decisive Polish victory in 1920 that stopped the Red Army from expanding communism to Western Europe, the museum has been planning an exhibition to commemorate the event.

The director also said that it would be done by organising an exhibition of pieces of art “stolen by the Russians soon after the partitions of Poland” but returned following the Treaty of Riga.

The Peace of Riga, also known as the Treaty of Riga was signed in Riga on March 18, 1921, by Poland, Soviet Russia (acting also on behalf of Soviet Belarus) and Soviet Ukraine. The treaty ended the Polish-Soviet War. Mr Miziołek said that “it is unbelievable how many tapestries, paintings and sculptures returned as the result of the treaty”.