Berman and Stieglitz Galleries, ground floor
When printmaking began in Europe in the fifteenth century, prints were essentially limited by the size and shape of a sheet of paper and a standard press. By the sixteenth century, a variety of impulses led printmakers to challenge these restrictions. Ambitions to rival paintings and to adorn wall surfaces prompted artists to expand printed images horizontally into friezelike sequences, like carved wall reliefs, or both horizontally and vertically to emulate the scale and monumentality of murals and tapestries. They achieved these effects by using multiple woodblocks or engraving plates and joining sheets of paper that were aligned to produce a single image. Some of the most impressive mural-scale woodcuts were produced by the workshop of the Venetian painter Titian, such as the extraordinary Submersion of Pharaoh's Army in the Red Sea, about 1514, which measures four by seven feet. Popular subject matter for oversize prints included maps, panoramas of battlefields and skylines of cities, as well as processional and narrative scenes. Extremely large prints were also commissioned as decorative schemes for festivals, events, and for commemorative purposes. Grand Scale assembles more than forty oversize and multipart woodcuts and engravings from United States collections. Except for an exhibition of giant Renaissance woodcuts in the 1970s, this is the first exhibition in more than one hundred years to explore the origins of this genre in printmaking with works by some of the most important artists and printmakers of their day.
This exhibition is organized by The Davis Museum and CulturalCenter, Wellesley College, with the support of major gifts from theMarjorie and Gerald Bronfman Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation,the Robert Lehman Foundation, and Wellesley College Friends of Art, withadditional funds from the International Fine Print Dealers Association.
The Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College • March 19–June 8, 2008
Yale University Art Gallery • September 9–November 30, 2008
The Philadelphia Museum of Art • January 31–April 26, 2009
Shelley Langdale • Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings
Larry Silver • Farquhar Professor of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania