Origins of European Printmaking: Fifteenth-Century Woodcuts and Their Public

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This highly anticipated and beautifully illustrated book examines the evolution of early printmaking in late medieval Europe. Through their means of production and the evidence of their utility, prints are explored in a broad social and economic context. Key topics include the complex problem of reconstructing the beginnings of the European woodcut; the practice of copying and dissemination of models endemic to the medium; and the varied functions of the print from the spiritual to the secular.

A team of expert authors examines the many ways in which fifteenth-century woodcuts and  metalcuts reflect the nature of piety and visual experience. Replicated images helped to structure private religious practice, transmit beliefs, disseminate knowledge about material facts, and graph abstract ideas. Mass-produced pictures made it feasible for people of all stations to possess them, thereby initiating a change in the role of images that eventually helped alter the definition of art itself.

The Origins of European Printmaking is an essential book for art historians, students, and collectors, as well as the general reader with an interest in medieval history and culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Art Times
"Scholarly, far-reaching and always informative. A must for the serious artbook collector."—Art Times
Library Journal
This gorgeous and substantial catalog, published in association with Washington's National Gallery of Art and accompanying an exhibition at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (Dec. 2005-Mar. 2006) takes a close look at the first images printed on paper in the Western world. It wonderfully melds beauty with scholarship, presenting more than 100 15th-century, single-sheet woodcuts and metalcuts in all their graphic glory along with entries full of scholarly apparatus. These entries often run several pages and include endnotes as well as information about inscriptions, watermarks, provenance, and literature pertaining to the item. Parshall (curator and head, Old Master prints, National Gallery of Art, Washington), Schoch (vice director and head, graphic arts collection, Germanisches Nationalmuseum), and others do a fine job of explaining how these images were produced, the many ways they were used, and how the scholarship of early printed images has evolved over the centuries. This work represents one of the only in-depth studies of the earliest relief prints and is recommended for all libraries with collections related to medieval printmaking.-Kraig Binkowski, Yale Ctr. for British Art Lib. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300113396
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 9.74 (w) x 12.26 (h) x 1.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Parshall is curator and head of the department of Old Master prints at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rainer Schoch is vice director and head of the graphic arts collection at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg

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Table of Contents

Early woodcuts and the reception of the primitive 1
The early woodcut : the known and the unknown 19
The multiple image : the beginnings of printmaking, between old theories and new approaches 37
Catalogue 57
App The papers and their water 332
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