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The Early Years of Lithography

"The Early Years of Lithography" presents early nineteenth-century lithographs from the collection of the K. Ubāns Art Reading Room at the National Library of Latvia. The artworks will be complemented by video stories demonstrating the technique and assessing the place that classic lithography holds and its ability to coexist with contemporary technologies.

In addition to lesser-known works, the exhibition also includes masterpieces by renowned artists such as Johann Nepomuk Strixner (1782−1855), Eugène Delacroix (1798−1863), Théodore Géricault (1791−1824). "The Monk’s Head" by artist Wilhelm Reuter (1768−1834)−a unique example of German early lithography and one of the oldest lithographic folios in the Library’s collection−is particularly worth seeing. The collection’s jewel in the crown though is Faust, Wagner, and the Water Dog by Delacroix, which shows Doctor Faust and his assistant Wagner meeting a black dog.

The works selected for the exhibition give an overview of the technical options offered by lithography, and the diversity of its characteristic genres and subjects. These include landscapes with historical and topical motifs, portraits, religious scenes, and illustrations of everyday life. The exhibition also includes caricatures as, in the 19th century, the lithography technique served as one of the leading propagators of criticism of the elite. In many works, romantic imagery stands alongside documentary images and the recording of events.

The NLL's graphic arts collection is one of the largest and most significant foreign print collections in Latvia. The exhibited works are part of a donation of over 10,000 items by the German art historian Peter Böttger, a collection donated to the Library in 2016.
Relevant research areas: Eastern Europe, 19th Century, Lithography

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