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German Renaissance Color Woodcuts

This display of colour printmaking in Germany spans the first attempts to incorporate colour into woodcuts in the early 1400s (before Gutenberg invented movable type in about 1450) through the revival of classical forms and learning in the Renaissance and the Reformation (the religious movement that led to the creation of Protestantism) of the 1500s, up to the decline of woodcut around 1600. It shows that colour printing was integral to the emerging aesthetic of the press in German Renaissance book, print and visual cultures. Early German colour prints are now considered rare because comparatively few impressions have survived. In their day, however, they were commonplace with thousands of them in circulation for uses as diverse as illustrating books to decorating furniture. This display is curated by Elizabeth Savage (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow). It coincides with the publication of the first handbook of early colour-printing techniques, Printing Colour 1400–1700, which she edited with Ad Stijnman.

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