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Exhibitions/ The Renaissance of Etching

The Renaissance of Etching

At The Met Fifth Avenue
October 23, 2019–January 20, 2020

Exhibition Catalogue

This fascinating volume examines the origins of the etched print in Renaissance Europe.

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Exhibition Overview

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 traces the first sixty 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, are displayed alongside a number of drawings, printing plates, illustrated books, and armor.

Accompanied by a catalogue.


"A fascinating look at how etching revolutionised 16th-century printmaking. . . . a cornucopia of rare delights"—Financial Times

The exhibition is made possible by the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund, the Placido Arango Fund, The Schiff Foundation, and Ann and Matthew Nimetz.

It is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Albertina Museum.

The catalogue is made possible by the Drue E. Heinz Fund. Additional support is provided by the Tavolozza Foundation.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in

Exhibition Objects

Come See Dürer at The Met!

Etching of the side-view of a rhinoceros, by Albrecht Durer.

This fall, the Museum celebrates Dürer by showing his prints in four exhibitions at The Met Fifth Avenue. In this blog post, curator Freyda Spira shows you where to find them.



Related Content

Birds-eye view of various printmaking tools laid out on a table.

Learn more about the process of creating an etching in this online feature.

Daniel Hopfer (German, 1471–1536). Woman and Attendant Surprised by Death (detail), ca. 1500–10. Etching, 6 3/8 x 9 in. (16 x 22.7 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1951 (51.501.383)