A lion attacking a horse (c. 1765)
oil on canvas
69.0 x 100.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1949
In the four centuries before photography was invented, knowledge of art was circulated primarily through prints. Paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, frescoes, drawings and watercolours were frequently best known via prints that they inspired. Numerous artists such as Raphael, Rubens and Turner employed this form of visual communication to disseminate their art. An expansive print industry flourished until the nineteenth century when reproductive prints (prints after other works of art) came to be regarded as secondary when compared with 'original' prints (prints produced solely in that medium). This distinction overlooked the skill and artistic input of the printmakers and the huge impact such prints had on the development of Western art.
This exhibition explores elements of the fascinating history of reproductive printmaking from the sixteenth to the late nineteenth centuries. Selected from the NGV collection, Picture to Print takes as its focus paintings and drawings from the collection by Parmigianino, Boucher, Highmore, Stubbs and Turner, exhibited together with prints they inspired.