The Renaissance of Etching

Jenkins, Catherine, Nadine M. Orenstein, and Freyda Spira, with contributions by Peter Fuhring, Donald J. La Rocca, Anne Varick Lauder, Christof Metzger, Femke Speelberg, Ad Stijnman, Pierre Terjanian, and Julia Zaunbauer (2019)

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Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (8)
The Renaissance of Etching
October 23, 2019–January 20, 2020

The history of printmaking has been punctuated by moments of great invention that have completely changed the course of the medium. The beginning of etching in Europe in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries—when the technique moved out of the workshop of armor decorators and into those of printmakers and painters—represents one of those pivotal moments. Etching, essentially drawing on the surface of a metal plate, had an ease that opened the door for all kinds of artists to make prints. The pioneers of the medium included some of the greatest painters of the Renaissance, such as Albrecht Dürer, Parmigianino, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

This exhibition will trace the first seventy years of the etched print (circa 1490 to circa 1560), from its emergence in the workshop of the German printmaker and armor decorator Daniel Hopfer to the years when a range of artists from Germany, Flanders, Italy, and France began experimenting with etching. Approximately 125 etchings, produced by both renowned and lesser-known artists, will be displayed alongside a number of drawings, printing plates, illustrated books, and armor.