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Nov. 7, 2022

s2e21 History of Prints Reproductive Prints (part one)

Reproductive prints are the backbone of the history of prints and deserve better


Platemark series two, A History of Western Prints, returns with an episode about reproductive prints. In s2e21, Tru Ludwig takes listeners back to a time when lives were lived with no images save for maybe what one saw in church. Prints were the way the first images were widely consumed; they were that era’s internet. A reproductive print is one in which an artist's creation (a drawing, painting, or sculpture) is recreated by another artist as a print after that original design. These can be sanctioned by the first artist or not. They can occur long after the first artist‘s death. It is customary to acknowledge all the artists in the strip of lettering at the bottom of the print (called the address). This way credit is given where due.

Over time, reproductive prints became quite formulaic and staid. When photography was developed in the 1830s, it wasn’t long before there was little need for the reproductive print. Those interpretations of an artwork were replaced with actual photographic reproductions of the images. In addition, arbiters of taste have created false hierarchies of subject matter and techniques and have designed an entire framework around originality and uniqueness. Prints can keep up with subject matter but have generally gotten the short stick on these other counts. There is also the matter of property rights, copyright, etc. Keep in mind these are concepts that developed over time and were not matters of law until rather recently.

All of these issues are wrapped up in Tru’s tale about reproductive prints. Enjoy the ride.

Selected Bibliography

Linda Hults. The Print in the Western World: An Introductory History. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996.

Rebecca Zorach and Elizabeth Rodini, editors. Paper Museums: The Reproductive Print in Europe, 1500–1800. Chicago: Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 2005.

Antony Griffiths. The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550–1820. London: British Museum, 2016.

 

Images discussed are below along with their credit/institution.

Episode images: (LEFT) Martin Schongauer (German, 1445–1491). Baptism of Christ, 1481 or before. Engraving. Sheet (trimmed within platemark): 158 x 159 mm. (6 1/4 x 6 1/4 in.). Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore. (AND RIGHT) Urs Graf (Swiss, c. 1485–1527/29). Baptism of Christ, 1505. Engraving. Sheet (trimmed near platemark): 213 x 143 mm. (8 3/8 x 5 5/8 in.). Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore.

 


[DETAIL] Gilbert Stuart (American, 1755–1828). George Washington (Athenaeum Portrait), 1796. Oil on canvas. 121.9 x 94 cm. (48 x 37 in.). Jointly owned by the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


Johann Gutenberg (German, c. 1400–1468) and Johann Fust (German, 1400–1466). Biblia Latina, c. 1455. Bound volume with letterpress text. Morgan Library and Museum, New York.


Andreas Vesalius (Italian, 1514–1564). De humani corporis fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body). Padua: School of Medicine, 1543.


Sir Joshua Reynolds (British, 1723–1792). The Infant Samuel, 1776. Oil on canvas. 80 x 70 cm. Musée Fabre, Montpellier.


John Sartain (British, 1808–1897) after Sir Joshua Reynolds (British, 1723–1792). The Infant Samuel, c. 1825. Mezzotint. Private Collection.


Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822–1899). The Horse Fair, 1852–55. Oil on canvas. 96 ¼ x 199 ½ in. (244.5 x 506.7 cm.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


Currier & Ives, after Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822–1899). The Horse Fair, c. 1900-20. Chromolithograph. Image: 15 7/8 x 25 1/16 in. Private Collection.


Paul Revere (American, 1734–1818) after Henry Pelham (American, 1749–1806). The Boston Massacre, 1770. Engraving and etching with hand coloring. Plate: 10 ¼ x 9 1/8 in. (26 x 23.2 cm.); sheet: 11 x 9 9/16 in. (27.9 x 24.3 cm.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


Four states of Rembrandt’s Three Crosses and quotation from Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.


Erin Womack after Jacques Callot (French,1592–1635). Le Buveur vu de Face, plate 6 from Les Gobbi, 1622. Etching.


Jacques Callot (French,1592–1635). Le Buveur vu de Face, plate 6 from Les Gobbi, 1622. Etching and engraving. Achenbach Foundation, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.


Adrienne Figus after Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 1720–1778). The Drawbridge, plate 7 from the series Carceri, 1761. Etching.


Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 1720–1778). The Drawbridge, plate 7 from the series Carceri, 1761. Etching and engraving. Plate: 556 x 411 mm. British Museum, London.


Abby Uhteg after Honoré Daumier (French, 1808–1879). Nadar élevant la Photographie à la hauteur de l'Art, 1862. Lithograph.


Honoré Daumier (French, 1808–1879). Nadar élevant la Photographie à la hauteur de l'Art, 1862. Lithograph. Sheet: 44.8 × 30.9 cm. (17 5/8 × 12 3/16 in.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


Shane Darwent after Vasily Kandinsky (French, born Russia, 1866–1944). Lyrical (Lyrisches) (plate, folio 9) from Klänge (Sounds), 1913. Woodcut.


Vasily Kandinsky (French, born Russia, 1866–1944). Lyrical (Lyrisches) (plate, folio 9) from Klänge (Sounds), 1913. Woodcut. Image: 5 13/16 x 8 9/16 in. (14.8 x 21.7 cm.); sheet: 11 1/16 x 10 7/8 in. (28.1 x 27.7 cm.). Museum of Modern Art, New York.


Kelsey Beyer after Max Klinger (German, 1587–1920). The Seduction, plate 4 from the portfolio A Life, 1884–98. Etching.


Max Klinger (German, 1587–1920). The Seduction, plate 4 from the portfolio A Life, 1884–98. Etching. Plate 41.5 x 21.5 cm. (16 5/16 x 8 7/16 in.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


Lissandra DelCampo after Lovis Corinth (German, 1858–1925). Death and the Artist, from the series Dance of Death, 1921. Etching and drypoint.


Lovis Corinth (German, 1858–1925). Death and the Artist, from the series Dance of Death, 1921. Etching and drypoint. Sheet: 14 3/16 in. × 10 in. (36 × 25.4 cm.); plate: 9 7/16 × 7 1/16 in. (23.9 × 17.9 cm.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


Eileen Shigakawa after Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867–1945). The Widow I, from the portfolio War, 1921–22. Woodcut.


Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867–1945). The Widow I, from the portfolio War, 1921–22. Woodcut. Image: 370 x 240 mm. Tate, London.


Hubert van Eyck (Netherlandish, 1370–1426) and Jan van Eyck (Netherlandish, 1390–1441). Adoration of the Mystic Lamb or The Ghent Altarpiece, 1432. Oil and tempera on wood. 138 x 181 in. St. Bavo’s Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium.


Masaccio (Italian, 1401–1428). The Holy Trinity with the Virgin and St. John and donors, 1425–27. Fresco painting in chapel. 236 x 125 in. in Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy.


Martin Schongauer (German, c. 1435/50–1491). Christ Carrying the Cross, c. 1475–80. Engraving. Sheet: 11 3/8 × 16 7/8 in. (289 × 429 mm.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


Antonio Pollaiuolo (Florentine, 1429 or 1433–1498). Battle of the Nudes or Battle of the Naked Men, c. 1470–90. Engraving. 39.3 x 57.9 cm (15 ½ x 22 3/4 in). Cincinnati Art Museum.


Hartmann Schedel (author; German, 1440-1514), Michael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (artists). Liber Chronicarum. Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 1493. Collection of Otis College, Millard Sheets Library.


Francesco Colonna (author; Italian, c. 1453–1517) and Benedetto Bordone (illustrator; Italian, c. 1455/60–1530). Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. Bound volume with text and woodcut illustrations. Venice: Aldo Manuzio (Italian, 1449/50–1515), 1499.


Reinis Gallitis (Latvian, born 1992). Face of…, 2021. Engraving. Sheet: 30 x 22 cm.; plate: 25 x 18 cm. Private Collection.


Reinis Gallitis (Latvian, born 1992). Vortex, 2021. Engraving. Sheet: 44 x 34 cm.; plate: 40 x 29 cm. Private Collection.

 

Platemark is produced by Ann Shafer
Series one co-host: Ben Levy
Series two co-host: Tru Ludwig
Theme music:
Michael Diamond