The most important monumental engraving from Rembrandt's last years, The Three Crosses is his last known print on the crucifixion theme. The film explores the changes Rembrandt made to the work during the four states of the execution of this drypoint masterpiece, which leads the viewer into a visionary world. Never had Rembrandt gone as far in the changes wrought in the composition of an engraving. From the blond light of the first state to the long, dark, closely-laid grooves of the fourth state illustrate this plunge into the darkness reported by the Evangelists— « the sun went into eclipse, and darkness fell over all the earth »—the virtuoso artist plays with the possibilities of chiaroscuro and the shadowy lines of drypoint. Many of the figures express their sorrow, the agitation of the crowd, the presence of the Roman army, the horses rearing : everything gives the feeling of chaos and horror in accordance with the event. In his studio in the Côtes d’Armor (Brittany), François Béalu, draughtsman and engraver for whom « the drypoint extends the arm and writes the landscape in all its variations », clarifies Rembrandt’s innovative technique for us. And François Baudequin, the director of the Chalcographie du Louvre workshop, reveals the secrets of drypoint, from the scraper to the burnisher, as well as the inking of the plate.
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