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An old master print with colour is almost invariably regarded as a suspect object because the colour is presumed to be a cosmetic addition made to compensate for deficiencies of design or condition. Painted Prints challenges this deeply entrenched assumption about the material and aesthetic structure of old master prints by showing that in many cases hand colouring is not a dubious supplement to a print but is instead an integral element augmenting its expressive power, beauty, and meaning.
Published in conjunction with an exhibition at The Baltimore Museum of Art and St. Louis Art Museum, Painted Prints reproduces and discusses a rich variety of hand-coloured prints from Northern Europe of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Anonymous woodcuts are juxtaposed with masterworks by such famed artists as Dürer, Holbein, and Goltzius. These prints, secular as well as religious, muted as well as vibrant in tonality, make it clear that hand colouring was a widespread, enduring practice, developed to satisfy the demands of both elite and popular audiences.
Painted Prints presents new research into the men and women who specialized in hand colouring and offers numerous insights into the social and economic organization of Renaissance and Baroque printmaking. It also draws on scientific analyses of the materials and techniques of hand colouring to address important questions of authenticity, chronology, and condition. With a catalogue and colour illustrations of all the hand-coloured prints in the exhibition, Painted Prints makes a groundbreaking contribution to the study of old master prints and their pivotal place in the visual culture of early modern Europe.
List of Lenders
1. Introduction: Rediscovering Painted Prints
2. Painting Prints in Germany and the Netherlands
3. The Technology and Materials of Renaissance and Baroque Hand-Colored Prints
Appendix: Results of Analytical Testing of Hand-Colored Prints
Susan Dackerman is Curator of the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at The Baltimore Museum of Art. Thomas Primeau is Associate Paper Conservator at The Baltimore Museum of Art.