Monumental Prints in the Age of Durer & Titian at Philly Museum of Art

maximilain-arch-on-wall

Philly’s Artblog has a really great post about the Grand Scale, Monumental Prints in the Age of Durer and Titian exhibition, which makes its final stop at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (through April 26, 2009) and it is the first ever devoted to monumental Renaissance prints.

Here’s the context:

…at some point in the 16th century a lesser-know tradition developed of monumental prints created from multiple sheets of paper assembled into images intended for public viewing; the precedent for such multiple-sheet images may well be printed maps. Monumental prints substituted for paintings, murals or tapestries or served as wall-paper. Because of their size and uses few of them have survived; many are unique examples and some of those are incomplete.

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And regarding what’s on display:

Among the 47 works are woodcuts, engravings and even a few etchings from northern and southern Europe; there are maps, topographic scenes, an astronomical chart, reproductions of religious and secular paintings and one example of modular-repeat wallpaper. They include the precedent of Mantegna’s Battle of the Sea Gods, four spectacular prints after Titian (including the cinematic Submersion of Pharoh’s Army in the Red Sea), stunning chiaroscuro woodcuts after Becafumi, Durer’s work for Maximilian, scenes of Turkey and India, and several erotic entertainments by Sebald Beham (who is usually known as one of the Little Masters for his tiny prints the size of large postage stamps). Beham’s Fountain of Youth (c. 1531) depicts nude, co-ed bathing and assorted hanky-panky in a scene most appropriate for the walls of a tavern, or more likely a bordello.

Unquestionably the star of the exhibition is the Triumphal Arch of Maximilian I, one of a suite of three monumental prints which A. Hyatt Mayor described as Maximilian’s program of paper grandeur. Despite its size (more than 11 feet tall), this bombastic piece of political propaganda was in such demand that the blocks survived and were printed for centuries; the one on view, from the National Gallery of Art, was printed in 1799.

Read the whole post here.

All images via artblog

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