The rise of printmaking in Europe in the early fifteenth century facilitated major transformations in visual culture. Serialized images began to circulate on an unprecedented scale, extending beyond the confines of palaces or churches to reach new audiences of artists, collectors, and connoisseurs. Renaissance and Baroque Prints: Investigating the Collection surveys the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum’s substantial holdings of prints from the late fifteenth to eighteenth centuries. Highlights include work by major innovators of the medium of printmaking such as Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) and Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669) as well as Daniel Hopfer (c. 1470–1536), Marcantonio Raimondi (c. 1480–c. 1530), and Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778).
Printmaking during the Renaissance and Baroque eras served a wide variety of purposes. As part of the Renaissance in Northern Europe, such artists as Dürer developed sophisticated techniques and subject matter that elevated the print to an important art form in its own right. Prints also played an integral role in the growing fascination with classical antiquity that was a hallmark of the Renaissance era, fueled in part by the proliferation of printed images depicting ancient sculpture and buildings that were disseminated throughout Europe. In the Baroque era printmaking continued to flourish as Rembrandt and others experimented with new techniques and dramatic expressive effects that lent an emotional immediacy to traditional religious scenes. Printmaking also served as a medium that reflected imagined worlds, as in the fantastic architectural scenes of Piranesi.
Renaissance and Baroque Prints: Investigating the Collection offers a unique opportunity to study the Museum’s rich collection of works on paper, much of which has rarely been shown. A variety of printmaking techniques are represented by the works on view, including woodcuts, engravings, and etchings, complemented by a selection of drawings from the same period. The display is conceived as a catalyst for new research on these works through a series of public talks with faculty, students, and curators specializing in this area.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website