Graphic Collection

Prints – an early mass medium

As of the 15th century, the first paper mills create the basis for the cheap and rapid production of graphic prints. Information and illustration, secular and ecclesiastical propaganda, now experience mass distribution for the first time. Hence images also become available to ordinary people. The period is witness to a media revolution. The various printmaking techniques used include woodblock printing, copperplate engraving and mezzotint. With Albrecht Dürer, artistic printmaking reaches its first highpoint.

The major painting studios also use the new medium early on to disseminate their works. Artists like Raphael and Rubens hire their own engravers to transpose their paintings into shades of black and grey. Specialised publishers serve a thriving market which spreads popular visual motifs across the whole of Europe.

Image Credits