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"The Age of Titian: Prints and Printmaking in Renaissance Venice"
2002-11-14 until 2003-02-16
Bonnefanten Museum
Maastricht, , NL Netherlands

The exhibition THE AGE OF TITIAN offers a rich, animated picture of graphic arts in Venice during the period from 1470 to 1580. The best known artists of the time are represented in the exhibition, including Titian, Mantegna, Giulio and Domenico Campagnola, Jacopo de’Barbari and Andrea Schiavone. A special feature of the exhibition is the juxtaposition of works created using a variety of graphic techniques – engravings, etchings, (chiaroscuro) woodcuts as well as drawings in several techniques: brush, pen and red chalk. Visitors can use a magnifying glass to view the fine details yielded by these techniques.

Reflecting a superior quality of printmaking, the prints included in the exhibition are on loan from the most celebrated print collections, including the Albertina in Vienna, the British Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Print Collection (Rijksprentenkabinet) in Amsterdam and the Louvre in Paris. The drawings on display – ten preliminary studies for engravings and etchings – have been loaned from internationally renowned collections as well, including the Uffizi in Florence, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and the Teylers Museum in Haarlem.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Venice was one of the foremost centres of printmaking in Europe. One characteristic of Venetian printmaking is the use of a wealth of printmaking techniques. Artists constantly experimented with new techniques and styles. Renowned artists focused on creating engravings and etchings, or supplied model drawings to be crafted into woodcuts by others. During this period, prints served a wide range of functions and embodied many meanings. The sophisticated engravings of Jacopo de’Barbari and Giulio Campagnola, for instance, were intended for a select group of intellectual connoisseurs.

At the same time, Titian worked closely with wood engravers who attempted to realise his ambitious compositions. Influenced by Parmigianino, two key pioneers – Andrea Schiavone and Battista Franco – made their first etchings during the second quarter of the 16th century. Franco prepared his prints, frequently involving a mix of printing techniques (etching and engraving), in a traditional manner, based on breathtaking figure studies. Schiavone, on the other hand, experimented a great deal with the dry point needle.

Around 1560-1570, print dealers made a concerted effort to introduce their prints to a broader audience. The wide range of subjects – the land of plenty, Carnival and Lent, the world upside down – offers a glimpse into various aspects of Renaissance culture. Once again, it becomes evident why Venice played such a pivotal role in the history of European art and culture of the early modern era.

The exhibition will also mark the release of a publication by Gert Jan van der Sman, currently employed by the Dutch Istituto Universitario Olandese di Storia dell’Arte in Florence. The catalogue is available in both Dutch and French. Following its run in Maastricht, the exhibition will be on display at the Stedelijk Musea in Bruges. From 1 March to 26 May, THE AGE OF TITIAN will be exhibited in the Arentshuis in Bruges.

Ugo da Carpi naar Titiaan,
St. Hieronymus Berlin,
Kupferstichkabinett, 230-192

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