The Culture of Prints in Early Modern Europe


Spring 2014


5th Floor Classroom


Andrew Morrall

The advent of printing techniques signaled a watershed in European visual culture. This course will follow the development of printmaking in Europe from the first simple woodcuts to its apogee as a sophisticated art form in the sixteenth century. We will study the technical and aesthetic developments of the three main types of print, woodcut, engraving and etching, as well as issues of workshop practice and organization, to discover how by the mid-century, the production of and market for prints had expanded exponentially and the medium had acquired the status of an independent art form and an established set of critical values by which to judge it. A second aspect of the course will be to consider the massive cultural impact of prints across Europe as cheap and easily transportable models of design and ornament for the decorative and applied arts. Another component will be to explore the extent to which the replicated image helped revolutionize the transfer of knowledge in early modern Europe: how via printed books, maps and scientific objects and manuals, visual representation, as much as the written word, actively facilitated the conceptualization of ideas and framed scientific discourse. The course will include trips to local print collections and libraries. 3 credits. Satisfies pre-1800 requirement.