Exhibitions

Elizabeth Savage
GERMAN RENAISSANCE COLOUR PRINTS

Savage-GermanPrints-FINALBritish Museum, London
25 November 2015–27 January 2016
30,000 visitors
Coinciding publication: Printing Colour 1400–1700 (Brill, 2015)

This display of colour printmaking in Germany spans the first attempts to incorporate colour into woodcuts in the early 1400s (before Gutenberg invented movable type in about 1450) through the revival of classical forms and learning in the Renaissance and the Reformation (the religious movement that led to the creation of Protestantism) of the 1500s, up to the decline of woodcut around 1600.

Early German colour prints are now considered rare because comparatively few impressions have survived. In their day, however, they were commonplace, with thousands in circulation for uses as diverse as illustrating books to decorating furniture. They are often called ‘false’ or ‘German chiaroscuros’ because the Venetian artist Ugo da Carpi invented a way to imitate wash drawing by printing woodcuts in ‘chiaro et scuro’ in 1516. That is misleading; German printers independently achieved stunning colouristic effects for generations before and after Ugo’s invention.
 

Click here to download the exhibition text for German Renaissance Colour Woodcuts

Click here to download the press release for German Renaissance Colour Woodcuts

Elizabeth Savage (Upper)
PRINTING IN COLOUR IN TUDOR ENGLAND

Savage(Upper)-TudorPrints-CUL-2013
December 2013–January 2014
40,000 visitors
Online exhibition: exhibitions.lib.cam.ac.uk/tudorcolour
The exhibition presents aspects of Dr Elizabeth Upper’s research as the 2012/13 Munby Fellow of Bibliography. Access to the Library’s collections on the same terms as the members of its permanent staff, a unique feature of the Fellowship, allowed her to search for these vivid images in the thousands of sixteenth-century English books in the Rare Book vaults.
 
The colourful heraldic devices in the Book of St Albans (1486) have long been celebrated as the first and only images printed in colour in England until the mid-1700s, when technical breakthroughs allowed pictures to be printed in colour on a commercial scale. The 250-year gap between these landmarks of the history of English colour printing has been explained with reference to the absence of colour printing technologies or austere Reformation tastes, for instance. But images were indeed printed in colour in England throughout the sixteenth century, circulating in perhaps thousands of individual impressions.
 
Because all known examples are illustrations or visual elements in books and because there is no standard descriptive vocabulary for their colour printing, it has hidden in plain sight until now. This is the first ever exhibition on colour printmaking in Tudor England (1485-1603). These brightly printed pictures transform our understanding of the spread of technologies of visual communication in the English Renaissance, and more generally, in early modern Europe. Each theme explores a different technical approach; each object provides another piece of the story.
 

Melanie Grimm, Claudia Kleine-Tebbe, Ad Stijnman
LICHTSPIEL UND FARBENPRACHT
Entwicklungen des Farbdrucks 1500-1800

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Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel
11 March–28 August 2011
7,500 visitors
Catalogue: Lichtspiel und Farbenpracht (Buy now)
Click here for project details

Colour printed images are common today, but before 1800 they were relatively rare. The exhibits therefore offer new insights into the history of the development of the colour print. A number of the works in the exhibition and in the catalogue have never before been exhibited to the public.

The colour print exhibition is a thematically organised walk through the centuries, from the beginning of multiple colour printing in the late fifteenth century through the early nineteenth century. Drawing on the holdings of the Herzog August Library, with loans from the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig (the art museum of the state of Lower Saxony, Germany), the exhibition gives insights into the creativity of woodcutters, engravers and printers and their developing technical skills.

The exhibition is part of the ‘Virtuelles Kupferstichkabinett’ project, organised by the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig, and the Herzog August Library, Wolfenbüttel. With support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, a total of 40,000 printed images from both institutes have been digitised, catalogued and made accessible online at www.virtuelles-kupferstichkabinett.de.

Ad Stijnman, Claudia Kleine-Tebbe
HOCHZEIT VON BILD UND BUCH
Anfänge der Druckgraphik, 1420-1515

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Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel
23 October 2009–31 January 2010
7,500 visitors
Catalogue: Hochzeit von Bild und Buch

The exhibits trace the earliest approaches to uniting printed images with printed texts, 1420–1515. Printed objects (not necessarily ‘texts’ or ‘images’) were used to illustrate texts, as bindings, as bookplates or marks of ownership, as devotional images and as bookmarks in manuscripts and incunabula. This early symbiosis of printed images and letterpress text is especially interesting for the Herzog August Library as a research library because it transgresses the barrier between the printroom as a place for art and the library as a place for books. This allows for new insights in the history of the book and the history of the print. The exhibits were precious holdings from the Herzog August Library (of which a third were printed in colour).

The exhibition is part of the ‘Virtuelles Kupferstichkabinett’ project, organised by the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig, and the Herzog August Library, Wolfenbüttel. With support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, a total of 40,000 printed images from both institutes have been digitised, catalogued and made accessible online at www.virtuelles-kupferstichkabinett.de.

Click here for more information about Hochzeit von Bild und Buch

Supported

HERCULES SEGERS

Cover of Huigen Leeflang and Pieter Roelofs, eds, Hercules Segers - Painter Etcher: A Catalogue Raisonne (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2017)Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
October 7 2016–January 8 2017
Coinciding publication:
Hercules Segers: Painter Etcher
Click here for details

With a total of eighteen paintings and a hundred and ten impressions of fifty-four prints, Hercules Segers is the first exhibition to present a complete overview of the artist’s work. Most come from the Rijksmuseum, which holds the largest group of works of art by Hercules Segers in the world. The show also contains prints and paintings from public and private collections in Europe and the United States. An oeuvre catalogue of all the etchings and paintings accompanies the exhibition.

Hercules Segers (1589/90-1633/40) was an artist, like Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt van Rijn, who wanted to fathom and reproduce the essence of nature and the world. Foliage, sky and rock could be better conveyed by constructing them from one’s own imagination, rather than trying to copy them exactly. He combined scenes ‘from life’ with imaginary elements, as he did in the view from his own house on Lindengracht in Amsterdam, which he placed in a mountain valley. There is no evidence that Segers ever travelled or saw mountains in real life.

Rembrandt was a great admirer of Segers’s work and owned eight of his paintings. He also acquired an etching plate from Segers’s estate and replaced the figures with some of his own, but he left the enchanting landscape untouched and printed it many times. Segers also found followers among Rembrandt’s pupils, such as Philips Koninck (1619-1688). Segers’s wonderfully coloured etchings remained popular with collectors and artists, but it was to be centuries – not until the twentieth century, in fact – before printmakers would experiment as freely again. Segers is consequently regarded as a pioneer of modern graphic art and modern art in general.

THE MYSTERIOUS LANDSCAPES OF HERCULES SEGERS

Cover of Huigen Leeflang and Pieter Roelofs, eds, Hercules Segers - Painter Etcher: A Catalogue Raisonne (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2017)Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
13 February–12 May 2017
Coinciding publication:
Hercules Segers: Painter Etcher
Click here for details

This exhibition is the first to display almost all of Segers’s prints in varying impressions alongside a selection of his paintings, and is the first large selection of his fascinating work to be shown in the United States.

The great experimental printmaker Hercules Segers (Dutch, ca. 1590–ca. 1638), one of the most fertile artistic minds of his time, created otherworldly landscapes of astonishing originality. With a unique array of techniques whose identification still puzzles scholars, he etched extraordinary, colorful landscapes and still lifes. Rejecting the idea that prints from a single plate should all look the same in black and white, he produced impressions in varied color schemes—painting them, then adding lines or cutting down the plate. Segers turned each impression of his evocative landscapes into unique miniature paintings that seem out of their time. He was a favorite artist of Rembrandt, who owned eight paintings and one printing plate by Segers.

WALL STREET JOURNAL
‘Captivating … Segers’s imaginative genius resounds throughout this show’

NEW YORK TIMES
One of the dreamiest, most immersive presentations of the year’

NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS
‘Astonishing … The larger mystery of this visually challenging and immensely rewarding exhibition is why this wonderful artist isn’t familiar to us all’