Date of Degree

2-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Art History

Advisor

Katherine Manthorne

Committee Members

Patricia Mainardi

Diane Kelder

Cynthia Roman

Subject Categories

History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Printmaking

Keywords

art exhibitions, printmaking, England

Abstract

During the long nineteenth century, in cities throughout Europe and North America, a new type of exhibition emerged – exhibitions devoted to prints. Although a vital part of print culture, transforming the marketing and display of prints and invigorating the discourse on the value and status of printmaking, these exhibitions have received little attention in existing scholarship. My dissertation aims to answer the question of when, where, and how did print exhibitions emerge during this period. It examines the initial development of these displays in England, home to the earliest print exhibitions and an innovative exhibition culture, from the 1770s to 1858.

Through an analysis of specific exhibitions in four categories—commercial, independent, national, institutional­—this dissertation reveals the motives of the publishers, artists, and organizations who mounted these exhibitions, outlines the wide variety of etchings and engravings displayed, from caricatures and book illustrations to reproductive prints and original etchings, and documents the audience and critical reception. These exhibitions were launched during a critical period for printmaking, when it was typically considered a secondary, minor art form and given little or unsatisfactory spaces in larger art exhibitions of paintings, sculpture, and drawings. By establishing a unique, dedicated space for the viewing of prints, this dissertation argues that exhibitions were developed as a critical tool to draw attention to prints, stimulate the market, and reposition prints as valuable art works. They mark a significant movement towards the professionalization of printmaking, which would be continued during the second half of the nineteenth century with the launch of the etching revival, and served to bring prints to an increasingly broad and engaged audience.

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