CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

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

Exhibition: 31 January - 26 April 2009

From the museum website, 15 April 2009

When printmaking began in Europe in the fifteenth century, prints were essentially limited by the size and shape of a sheet of paper and a standard press. By the sixteenth century, a variety of impulses led printmakers to challenge these restrictions. Ambitions to rival paintings and to adorn wall surfaces prompted artists to expand printed images horizontally into friezelike sequences, like carved wall reliefs, or both horizontally and vertically to emulate the scale and monumentality of murals and tapestries. They achieved these effects by using multiple woodblocks or engraving plates and joining sheets of paper that were aligned to produce a single image.

Some of the most impressive mural-scale woodcuts were produced by the workshop of the Venetian painter Titian, such as the extraordinary Submersion of Pharaoh’s Army in the Red Sea, about 1514, which measures four by seven feet. Popular subject matter for oversize prints included maps, panoramas of battlefields and skylines of cities, as well as processional and narrative scenes. Extremely large prints were also commissioned as decorative schemes for festivals, events, and for commemorative purposes.

Grand Scale assembles more than forty oversize and multipart woodcuts and engravings from United States collections. Except for an exhibition of giant Renaissance woodcuts in the 1970s, this is the first exhibition in more than one hundred years to explore the origins of this genre in printmaking with works by some of the most important artists and printmakers of their day.


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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