Published: September 17, 2002
BALTIMORE, MD. – The Baltimore Museum of Art will present the first major exhibition ever organized of hand colored prints from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries in “: The Revelation of Color in Northern Renaissance & Baroque Engravings, Etchings & Woodcuts.”
This groundbreaking exhibition, on display October 6-January 5, brings together more than 100 rarely loaned works from European and American museums and private collections.
Featuring nearly 50 works by master printmaker Albrecht Dürer, “” reveals that black and white Renaissance prints were commonly painted with brilliant colors near the time of their productions, an idea that has been ignored by many art scholars for centuries.
“Outstanding research by The Baltimore Museum of Art’s own curator and conservator has led to a truly remarkable exhibition,” said BMA Director Doreen Bolger. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to discover works that haven’t been seen for hundreds of years.”
One of the highlights is the presentation of 27 paintings of rarely seen hand colored Dürer prints next to their uncolored counterparts, a juxtaposition not likely to be seen again. All of the black and white prints are drawn from The Baltimore Museum of Art’s Old Master print collection.
Printed in black ink and brushed with transparent washes, bold opaque colors and hints of silver and gold by professional print colorists, the works in the exhibition range from early devotional woodcuts to playing cards to monumental wall decorations from the Fifteenth through Seventeenth Centuries. Magnificent images by printmakers Pieter Bruegel and Hans Burgkmair and father/son print colorists Hans and Georg Mack will be included. And, for the first time, a colored version of Dürer’s monumental 12-foot-high “Triumphal Arch,” a composite of 192 prints immortalizing the Holy Roman Emperor Maxmilian’s achievements, will be presented in the United States.
A 320-page full color catalog co-published by the Baltimore Museum of Art and Penn State University Press will also be available.
“: The Revelation of Color” is organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art and curated by Susan Dackerman, BMA curator of prints, drawings and photographs. Thomas Primeau, BMA associate paper conservator, prepared the scientific and technical aspects of the exhibition. The exhibition will travel to the St Louis Art Museum February 14 through May 18.
Combining art historical and scientific expertise, Dr Susan Dackerman and Thomas Primeau traveled to castles on mountaintops, scoured 500-year-old town ledgers and unlocked the mysteries of pigments with the latest conservation technology to reveal that, contrary to prevailing art historical opinions, the professional coloring of prints was a common practice during the Renaissance and hand coloring prints was a specialized trade in numerous northern European cities.
“The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century visual experience was filled with the colors of stained glass windows, tapestries, frescoes, illuminated manuscripts and oil paintings,” said Dackerman. “Why wouldn’t prints bear the same brilliant colors?”
The images once decorated the walls of private homes, served as religious devotional images, called attention to news sheets posted in the town square and added an air of splendor to missives from the emperor. A recreation of a Sixteenth Century print colorist’s studio, complete with brushes, stencils and period pigments, will explain how pigments were manufactured from minerals, roots and plants and how paints were applied to prints.
The museum, open Wednesday through Friday, 11 am until 5 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11 am until 6 pm, is on Art Museum Drive at North Charles and 31st Streets, three miles north of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. For general information, 410-396-7100 or visit www.artbma.org.
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