The Colby College Museum of Art has acquired three etchings by Rembrandt, bringing its holdings of prints by the Dutch master to 12. The newly acquired prints come to the museum as a gift from longtime benefactors Paula and Peter Lunder.

Colby President David Greene announced the acquisition at an event in Portland on Friday hosted by the Portland Press Herald. Rembrandt made the etchings in the mid-1600s, and all are relatively small. The largest, “A Scholar in His Study (Faust),” is about 9 inches by 7 inches. The others are the size of postcards.

Rembrandt made these prints more 350 years ago, “but they look as if they were printed as recently as yesterday. They are fresh and vibrant,” said Colby museum director Sharon Corwin. “Rembrandt was a master for a reason. You can see his facility and his mastery of the medium. The detail he is able to get into the etched line, that is where the magic comes in.”

The prints are not yet on view. One arrived in January, another was delivered this week and the third is due to arrive at the Waterville museum soon. The museum could not provide images of the artwork.

Rembrandt was skilled at painting, drawing and printmaking. While his paintings are worth millions of dollars, his prints hold far less value. Colby College would not discuss the value of the newly acquired prints, but Rembrandt prints generally sell for between a few thousands dollars apiece to $100,000 or more at auction.

Art scholars believe he made about 300 etchings. He died in 1669 at age 63.


The smaller prints donated by the Lunders are “Christ Returning from the Temple with His Parents,” made in 1654, and “Woman Bathing Her Feet at a Brook,” from 1658.

During Rembrandt’s time, a small etching was similar to a photograph today and was considered a key form of cross-cultural communication. During his life, he was better known for his prints than his paintings. He often depicted landscapes, biblical scenes and portraits.

The newly acquired Rembrandt prints add to a growing print collection at Colby, which already includes nine Rembrandt prints donated by the Lunders, as well as works by Picasso, Dürer, Goya and James McNeil Whistler, who was influenced by Rembrandt.

Justin McCann, a Colby curator, said the prints will serve Colby’s art community well. “We have printmakers here, and students in the studio-art classes and art history classes will learn from them, as well,” he said, calling Rembrandt’s line work and printing “exquisite.”

At the event in Portland on Friday – part of the newspaper’s Like A Boss series of live interviews with local leaders – Greene called the Lunders “the most amazing people in the world” and credited them for caring so deeply about Maine “that they are investing in it in just incredible ways, completely transforming institutions and opportunities for people in this state.”

The Lunders have given Colby numerous gifts of cash and art. Both serve on the museum’s board of governors and are former Waterville residents. Peter Lunder is a 1956 Colby graduate, former president of Dexter Shoe Co. and a nephew of its founder, Harold Alfond. In 1995, the Lunders pledged the lead gift to the museum’s Lunder Wing. In 2007, the couple donated hundreds of works of art valued at more than $100 million. Six years later, the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion opened to display the works. In 2016, the Lunders donated a set of 100 of Pablo Picasso’s etchings from the 1930s, and in 2017 they gave the museum another gift of $100 million.

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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