The emergence of etching on paper in Europe in the late 15th and early 16th centuries—when the technique moved out of the workshops of armor decorators and into those of printmakers and painters—was a pivotal moment that completely changed the course of printmaking. Opening October 23, The Renaissance of Etching will trace the first 60 years of the etched print through some 125 etchings created by both renowned and lesser-known artists, displayed alongside a selection of drawings, printing plates, etching tools, illustrated books, and armor. The works are drawn from the collections of The Met, The Albertina Museum, and a number of European and American lenders.
The Met’s exhibition will begin at the end of the 15th century with the origins of etching in the workshop of the German printmaker and armor decorator Daniel Hopfer and then move on to explore the ways in which a range of artists from Germany, Flanders, Italy, and France began to experiment with the new medium. In the transition from armor to print, a technique used to create unique and costly armor for elite patrons transformed into one used to produce relatively inexpensive prints for a broad audience. Furthermore, what was once the artwork (the etched metal armor) was now the tool used to create the artwork (the metal plate printed on paper). The exhibition will conclude with the period around 1560, when the technique became professionalized and the Netherlandish print publisher Hieronymus Cock employed etchers to create prints after designs produced by other artists. This period marked a transition from the use of etching as a means of experimentation to its standardization and expansion by printmakers and print publishers.
A list of over 100 objects shown in the exhibition is available on the Met website.
Following its presentation at The Met, the exhibition will be on view at The Albertina Museum in Vienna (12 February – 10 May 2020).
The Met’s exhibition is organized by Nadine Orenstein, Drue Heinz Curator in Charge of The Department of Drawings and Prints at The Met; Freyda Spira, Associate Curator of Drawings and Prints at The Met; and Catherine Jenkins, an independent scholar. A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition.