CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Grand scale: monumental prints in the age of Dürer and Titian

Exhibition: 9 September - 30 November 2008

From the website of the Davis Museum

Grand scale: monumental prints in the age of Dürer and Titian presents little-seen woodcuts, engravings and etchings from Italy, Germany and the Netherlands that were conceived on a scale to rival, and be used in the same manner as more permanent media such as painting, tapestry and sculpture. The exhibition provides an extraordinary chance to see these prints, which are rarely exhibited at all and virtually never shown together.

During their first century of existence in the fifteenth century, prints were essentially limited by the size and shape of single sheets of paper as well as by the size of a standard press. Yet in the new sixteenth century, a variety of impulses led to the expansion of printed imagery beyond these confining boundaries. Ambitions to rival painted images and to adorn wall surfaces prompted print ensembles to expand, either horizontally into frieze sequences like carved reliefs, or in both directions like murals or tapestries. They achieved these effects by adding coordinated sheets, at first mainly woodcuts but then increasingly engravings, to build single images. Guest curated by Larry Silver, Farquhar Professor of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania, this exhibition will be shown at the Davis Museum and at two other venues. This will be the first exhibition since the 1970s to explore this genre in printmaking by some of the most important artists and printmakers of their day.

Information from the organizer

The prints in Grand scale represent a broad swath of 16th-century European production, ranging from the early monumental woodcuts of Venice and Nuremberg, to the heroic age of Lucas van Leyden and Jan van Scorel in the Netherlands; from the fecund printmaking industries of Antwerp and Rome, to Hendrick Goltzius’s paradigm-shifting output in Haarlem. The shift away from woodcut and the rise of large-scale composite engravings in the middle decades of the sixteenth century coincided with the development of the business side of printmaking, when entrepreneurial figures began to fill the variety of roles we now identify as “print publisher”– coordinating the activities of an artist-designer-draftsman with an engraver-printmaker and a printer, and subsidizing the production and marketing of the prints. After mid-century the northern center of the north-south interchange with Italy had shifted from Germany to the Netherlands. For example, the Italian Ghisi worked in the early 1550s in Antwerp with publisher Hieronymus Cock as an engraver of Italian masters; and the Dutchman Cornelis Cort traveled to Italy and worked directly with Italian painters. In the 1580s, Hendrick Goltzius synthesized the roles of publishing prints—artist, engraver, and entrepreneur—all in one place; his distinctive engraving style transformed the work of his contemporaries and was transmitted by the numerous engravers trained by him, including Jan Saenredam and Jacob Matham.


Grand scale: monumental prints in the age of Dürer and Titian
Larry Silver and Elizabeth Wyckoff, editors, with essays by Lilian Armstrong, Suzanne Boorsch, Stephen Goddard, Larry Silver and Alison Stewart
Catalogue of an exhibition held in 2008 in Wellesley (Davis Museum) and New Haven (Yale University Art Museum) and in 2009 in Philadelphia (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
168 pp., 26.6 x 28 cm., 62 illustrations in black-and-white and 45 in color, plus 2 gatefolds
Wellesley (Davis Museum and Cultural Center) and New Haven (Yale University Press) 2008
ISBN: 978-0300-13879-5

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