The Renaissance Print


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David Landau and Peter Parshall


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Printmaking matured in western Europe between 1470 and 1550, when the great generation of artists and printmakers brought international recognition to print as an art form. This book examines the technical and aesthetic experimentation that went into printmaking, workshop practices, and the material and social contexts of print production, and it gives the fullest account ever written of the ways in which Renaissance prints were produced, distributed, and acquired.

David Landau and Peter W. Parshall pose a range of practical questions about the production of prints. They investigate, for example, what materials were used, how they were acquired, and how a Renaissance printmaker's workshop operated. They explore the evidence that individual prints were beginning to be esteemed as works of art rather than as inexpensive substitutes for them, and the relationship between prints made to be collected and those of a more ephemeral nature intended for a wider audience. They discuss how prints were valued during the period, including the relative value of woodcuts to engravings, and engravings to etchings. And they investigate how prints evolved in relation to the pictorial arts of the Renaissance generally. Examining documentary evidence and many individual prints, Landau and Parshall provide an integrated view of the Renaissance print as a social and artistic enterprise and reevaluate the achievements of the most influential phase in the history of European printmaking.

David Landau is the editor of Print Quarterly. Peter W. Parshall is professor of art history at Reed College, Portland, Oregon.

"For those who seek to understand more about how prints were made during the Renaissance, the criteria by which they were judged, the purposes for which they were intended, the uses to which they were put and the sheer diversity of their achievement, this daringly conceived and magnificently produced book should stand for many years to come."—David McKitterick, New York Times Book Review

"An outstanding book, remarkable for its intelligence as well as its mastery of the subject."—David Alexander, Country Life

"This title covers the subject of the Renaissance print so thoroughly, it is difficult to imagine finding any other book on the subject which could match it."—Stephanie Judson, Antiques Bulletin

"David Landau and Peter Parshall are print specialists par excellence, but it is their breadth that makes The Renaissance Print 1470-1550 such a tour de force. . . . An extremely important book."—David Ekserdjian, Times (London)

"Never before has the Renaissance fine print received the type of multifaceted scrutiny elaborated in this superb synthesis. . . . Not only is the proximate setting of the prints' production convincingly educed, but the societal milieu of their dissemination, acquisition, and appreciation are also cogently reconstructed. . . . This is a work so rich in information, observation, and insight that no collection seriously concerned with the history of the graphic arts of the Renaissance culture may dispense with it."—Library Journal

"More richly illustrated than one would have dared to hope, this long-anticipated and thoroughly gestated comprehensive study of arguably the single most glorious phase of printmaking in the history of Western art will satisfy readers of many tastes. . . . The survey is both comprehensive and highly readable."—Choice

"Enthusiasts of early prints will delight in the long-anticipated arrival of this penetrating study by two of the most thoughtful champions of the Renaissance print. . . . This text is chock-full of nuggets of information that mavens of print lore will thrive on. . . . This is a most welcome volume—it is at once an authoritative reference and refreshing rethinking of the Renaissance print."—Stephen Goddard, Print Collector's Newsletter

"A revelatory study of an oddly neglected subject. . . . This is the book to convince the unconverted that prints deserve equal consideration."—Susan Moore, Financial Times

"This book is the first of its kind, and will remain the foundation for future scholarship. The text is authoritative and richly detailed, yet is remarkably lucid and readable for a work of such thorough scholarship. . . . The prose is harmonious, sane, balanced, and occasionally witty. . . . There are many superbly detailed analyses of individual prints, informed by a keen understanding of the availability of materials."—Apollo Magazine

"Landau and Parshall's massive volume is not only the book of the year, but the book of the past decade, indeed perhaps the book of the last century. It is a work of great erudition and energy that gives for the first time a shape to the great epoch of printmaking. It will introduce the field to a wide readership, as well as serving as the point of departure for all future scholarship."—Anthony Griffiths, Keeper of Prints and Drawings, British Museum

"This book is more than a foundation, it is essential reading for the Renaissance scholar and collector alike."—Katherine A. McIver, Sixteenth Century Journal

"[A] scholarly, impressive, and beautifully produced book. . . . [It] has much to offer not only to the art historian but also to historians of technology and even of commerce."—F. David Hoeniger, Isis

"This is a landmark in the literature on prints, an exceptionally original and unusual work, one that will be used, reread, corrected, enlarged, debated, confirmed, attacked and admired for many years to come."—Henri Zerner, Print Quarterly

"The book makes valuable contributions to our knowledge of the Renaissance print and the technical advances of the period. It has a wide scope and is packed with details."—David Price, Libraries and Culture

"The rare book librarian will find the volume a readable and usable work of reference to a subject in which the secondary literature is too often in hard-to-find texts in German or Dutch."—Rare Books Newsletter

Winner of the 1995 Mitchell Prize given by the Mitchell Foundation for the History of Art.
ISBN: 9780300222050
Publication Date: September 25, 1996
448 pages, x
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