Prints, Art and Politics

Raphael Michelangelo, Louis XIV, Versailles, Royal C,ollections, Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, mezzotints, Reynolds, Zoffany, Gainsborough, Romney, satirical print, Brueghel, Dürer, Steen, Hogarth, Gillray, Rowlandson, Cruickshank, Blake, Goya, Daumier, Rembrandt, Van der Velde, Hercules Seghers, Richard Wilson, Thomas Gainsborough, William Hodges, JMW Turner, Degas, Pissarro, Cassatt, Renoir, Morisot, Bracquemond, Manet, Whistler printmaking techniques, black and white etchings, aquatints, color lithographs

10 June – 01 July 2020
Wednesdays 10.45am - 12.45pm
The University Women’s Club, 2 Audley Square, London W1K 1DB
Dr. Marie-Anne Mancio
Full course (4 sessions) £200.00
Single lecture £59.00
(includes morning coffee, tea and biscuits)

Book your place now on Prints, Art and Politics

“I have really enjoyed my first experience at The Course and I hope it won’t be the last”

“There is an immediacy and intimacy to works on paper that seems to bring us especially close to an artist’s vision and process. Drawn directly on paper or a printing plate, in broad gestures or precise marks, these works convey the vivid presence of the artist’s hand.” (Lisa Small, Senior Curator, Brooklyn Museum) Fuelled by the opening of papermills in Germany and Italy, print culture in Europe has flourished since the C15th. The course will cover printmaking from its earliest forms to the most recent examples of this fascinating medium.

Émile Bernard, In the Formal Garden, 1892
Émile Bernard, La Fileuse, The Spinner Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pinning the Hat, c.1898

Course outline

Printmaking: A Unique Form of Expression

Before considering a print, it’s important to understand the processes whereby it was made. What is the difference between drypoint and lithograph, for example? Between a first and second state? How do certain techniques lend themselves to types of expression? Once we’ve established these techniques, we’ll go on to explore how printmaking developed from its origins in China through the woodcuts and engravings of the Middle Ages, to screen prints, to today’s 3‐D printing. Who were the buyers? Was the international market really fuelled by the desire for cheap devotional images and playing cards? Why were some techniques more popular than others?

p.m. Gallery Visit to the British Museum

[Meeting instructions: please meet inside the Great Court at the dedicated ‘Meeting Point.’ Allow plenty of time to queue and pass through security checks etc.]

The British Museum has an extensive collection of prints. Our visit will enable us to explore the differences between processes ‘in the flesh’ across a variety of examples from different periods and cultures including the Japanese woodblock prints that so inspired artists like Mary Cassatt, Whistler, and Gauguin.

The Art of Reproduction and the Print as Fine Art

Historically, there are two main strands of printmaking: engravings that reproduce existing paintings (as in Renaissance Italy, or at the court of Louis IV); and ‘original’ artworks (for instance, the exquisite draughtsmanship of Rembrandt in C17th Amsterdam, of Watteau, Boucher, et al in C18th France, or the mezzotint portraits of celebrities that became fashionable in Britain). This lecture will explore both strands and also how developments in techniques altered demand. Whilst today’s preferred medium for reproductions is photography, there are still contemporary artists pursuing parallel practices in printmaking.

Politics in Print

The satirical print has a long history (20,000 of them were published in London between 1770 and 1830 alone). Whilst some lampooned the latest fashions, the foibles of personalities, and the habits of foreigners, others echoed public sentiments on taxes, war, and antisocial behaviour. Who can forget the barbed humour of Hogarth’s ‘Beer Street’ and ‘Gin Lane;’ the caricatures of Gillray; Daumier’s haunting lithographs? We will explore the role of humour within print culture and how prints encouraged revolt. We’ll also consider the despair at the heart of William Blake’s illustrated poems and Goya’s 1799 ‘Los Caprichos’ ‐ 80 etchings that derided corruption within Spain and the Catholic Church. Wary of the Inquisition, Goya deployed images which could be read in multiple ways and donated the plates to the king.