From the museum website, 1 March 2009
The fifteenth century witnessed the emergence of printmaking as a means of communicating imagery to a broad public. The readily reproducible medium of the print also permitted artists to communicate their compositional ideas, drawings and paintings to each other internationally for the first time. Printmaking thus had a profound impact on both the development of European art and the public’s visual imagination.
The earliest European printmaking technique, the woodcut, was derived from methods of applying patterns to textiles. This method involves carving away the surface of a wooden block to leave only the surface lines of the image to be printed. Also in the fifteenth century, a technique was developed that involved incising designs onto copper plate. This technique is known as engraving. During the sixteenth century, the drawing-like technique of etching was developed.
Masters in the development of these techniques were featured in the twenty-six selected prints exhibited in the Marjorie and Gerald Bronfman Gallery in the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion from September 15, 2000, to April 1, 2001. They included such early masters as Israel van Meckenem, Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Dürer, Italian sixteenth-century printmakers Marcantonio Raimondi, Jacopo de’ Barbari and Federico Barocci, and seventeenth-century artists Jacques Callot, Claude Lorrain and Rembrandt.