Single-Sheet Woodblock Prints of the 15th Century
The Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München is home to one of the most internationally significant collections of 15th German broadsheets and popular prints. The earliest European woodcuts emerged around 1400. While the process for printing on fabric was already known, it was during this time that pictures were first printed onto a new kind of support: paper. This allowed for compositions to be inexpensively reproduced in large editions. It was only through this that broader circles of the population had access to and could afford their own depictions. Religious subjects, which were used for private devotion, were most in demand. These early sheets are significant not only as historical documents. They are in fact superlative masterworks of linear expressiveness: the straight lines seek to convey an immediate statement, leading to bold, striking works. No collection in the world is able to demonstrate the early years of the woodcut as brilliantly as Munich’s Graphische Sammlung. The cradle of the European printmaking tradition is proudly safeguarded here. Thanks to the generous financial support of the Edith-Haberland-Wagner-Stiftung, all works have been comprehensively conserved, providing occasion for a select display of impressive sheets. The Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation generously sponsored the inventory catalog.
Relevant research areas: Western Europe, Medieval, Renaissance, Book arts, Papermaking, Relief printing[ssba]
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