The Market Place for Prints: People, Places and Processes
This lecture will offer a broad introduction to the world of print paying particular attention to the status of the‐printed image before the invention of photography. We will learn about the people and processes involved in the production of a print and think about how prints were designed to fulfill a variety of roles. Printed images could be instructional, aesthetic, religious or newsworthy. Specific printing techniques could be harnessed to meet the challenges of depicting certain subjects and this included animals and insects not commonly known or easily seen in Europe. Important social and cultural factors resulted from the development of a European‐wide market for repeatable, identical images. Key questions addressed in the lecture will include: how were prints made? Who bought them and why? And as international markets developed, what did an ‘English’, ‘French’ or ‘Dutch’ print mean?
Reproductive Prints: The Print as a Work of Art
This lecture concentrates on the ‘fine’ and sophisticated prints that were acquired by connoisseurs and treasured as works of art. The practice of using engraving to reproduce an existing painting emerged in Italy in the 16th century and it was initially associated with the art of Renaissance masters like Raphael and Michelangelo. From here, we will proceed to print‐making in France during the reign of Louis XIV, when master‐printmakers were employed at Versailles and commissioned to produce stupendous engravings of the royal collections. By the early 18th century taste in prints had changed: connoisseurs preferred modern art and sought out the dream‐like compositions of Watteau and prints after Boucher and Fragonard, popular for their bucolic and sexy subjects. The lecture will conclude with print‐making in 18th‐century Britain where the ‘art-print’ emerged as the preferred medium for circulating likenesses. In England, gorgeous black and white ‘mezzotints’ became the preferred medium for reproducing the portraits of the society ladies and military heroes who sat to Reynolds, Zoffany, Gainsborough and Romney. We will see how the circulation of these grand‐manner portrait prints contributed to the rise of a ‘celebrity’ culture.
Imaginative and Ephemeral Prints: Humour and Satire
The satirical print has long roots in European culture: stimulated by wars of religion and political rebellion, its production and circulation often remained secret although scholars have been adept at attributing these fascinating designs to some of the greatest artists and print‐makers of the day. This type of print is imaginative and allusive: its message is often veiled in symbols and language even if the prints were intended for broad circulation, as ‘popular’ art form. Over time, the satirical print turned into the more familiar caricature print. The lecture will trace this development asking questions about the meaning of satire, the role of humour, notions of beauty and ugliness, and the role that caricature and physiognomy played over time in the visual depiction of different social classes and national types. We will look at lampoons of politicians and actresses, shoe‐makers and doctors and the fashionable and the foreign. Charting a history that takes us from Holland and Italy to Britain, France and Spain we will see how the satirical and grotesque image evolved into a widely circulated art form, and one that was made possible by the development of a free press. Artists studied will include Brueghel, Dürer, Steen, Hogarth, Gillray, Rowlandson, Cruickshank, Blake, Goya and Daumier.
Landscape and Print: Artists & Experimentation
This lecture will concentrate on the role of print in the development of landscape painting. Prints were vectors of communication, transmitters of style and important factors in spreading ideas of national schools. These ideas are of particular interest when we turn to the depiction of landscape. The lecture will focus on master print‐makers. Starting with the 17th‐century Dutch masters like Rembrandt, Van der Velde and Hercules Seghers, we will trace the use of print in the depiction of natural world. From biblical and classical to natural and local landscapes, prints provide a fascinating corpus of material for thinking about the depiction of local and foreign places. Print‐makers were used to commemorate national sites and also to chart the exploration of distant lands, such as Jamaica and the South Seas. From the Dutch, we will turn to the British ad examine the landscape prints of Richard Wilson, Thomas Gainsborough, William Hodges and JMW Turner. Our journey will take us down to the mid‐19th century: we will examine the highly detailed rendition of landscape in the Pre‐Raphaelite prints – more than 800 exist – and we will conclude with the Impressionist print: Degas, Pissarro, Cassatt, Renoir, Morisot, Bracquemond, Manet and Whistler all experimented with printmaking techniques, producing black and white etchings, aquatints and color lithographs.