Indepth Arts News: |
"The Popular Print in England"
1999-05-08 until 1999-08-29
The British Museum
UK United Kingdom
The Popular Print in England includes
prints produced from the 16th to the mid
19th century, but not the sort that usually
finds its way into scholarly collections.
These were ephemera, sold cheaply on
the streets and pasted on to cottage and
tavern walls, produced in such huge
numbers that few people bothered to
preserve them. One of those who did
collect them was Hans Sloane, and his
prints of Siamese twins born in
Oxfordshire in 1552 and monstrous
piglets from Germany are among the
highlights of the exhibition.
The subjects of these prints are those of
today's tabloid newspapers: crime,
royalty, politics, war, sex and comedy.
Scenes of torture and death are
presented with a moral gloss; religion is
an excuse for prejudice; politicians
accuse each other of every crime in the
book; women are shrews who cuckold
their husbands; men spend their time
drinking and dreaming of the day the
world will turn upside down. The Popular
Print in England is not an exhibition for
the politically correct.
The exhibition will show that prints, like
other forms of popular culture, they were
far from immune from the effects of
commerce and industry and the lower
end of the market had its own changing
history just as did the world of fine art.