Enfilade

Exhibition | The Remondini & Eighteenth-Century Print Culture

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 17, 2013

This is the last week for a small exhibition I worked on with one of my exceptional students, Paula Manni (having graduated with her B.A. in May, she’s currently an intern at the Detroit Institute of Arts). Pedagogically, the project was immensely gratifying and provided more evidence for me of just how much one can do with online projects at basically no (economic) costs whatsoever. While we developed the online component primarily for a popular audience (iPads were available in the gallery), I was thrilled to receive—just one week after the exhibition opened—an email from a UK museum that owns several prints from the same Prodigal Son series and to learn that their images have been manipulated and combined with other prints in really interesting ways, further highlighting the interactive character of these sorts of perspective views. The bibliography for the exhibition provides a useful starting point for anyone working on zograscopes and vue d’optique prints generally. Paula and I shall continue to update the site occasionally , so I would welcome suggestions for sources we should add. As is typically the case with any project involving Google, there are terrific, telling measures of assessment: search for ‘Remondini’ and ‘Prodigal’, and among the top results will be the Prodigal Son among the Harlots-CH

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A Prodigal Story for the Marketplace: The Remondini and Eighteenth-Century Print Culture
The Center Art Gallery, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1 November — 17 December 2013

Curated by Craig Ashley Hanson and Paula Manni with Joel Zwart

Banner Image with Bold Text

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Founded in the mid-seventeenth century, the Remondini publishing firm produced prints and books on a massive scale for nearly two hundred years, marketing their paper commodities not only across Europe but also in the American colonies and parts of Asia. Based in Bassano, Italy (45 miles northwest of Venice), the firm targeted a large, popular audience. By offering a wide array of printed materials, ranging from religious pictures and texts, to genre scenes, to sweeping landscape views (often copying the works of others without permission), the firm appealed to the interests—and budgets—of an emerging middle class audience.

Highlighting Calvin College’s own Prodigal Son series of six etchings produced by the Remondini firm in the 1780s—copies after a series first published by Georg Balthasar Probst around 1770—this exhibition situates the prints within the visual culture of the period. While there is a tendency to address eighteenth-century prints as ‘art’ simply because of their age, exploration of the original publishing context allows us to see these pictures as both belonging within and contributing to an expanding popular culture that conflated entertainment, religion, and the marketplace. Most of the items included in the exhibition were never intended to be framed (much less hung on a gallery wall) but were instead expected to be handled and seen through perspective-enhancing viewing devices—variously described as diagonal mirrors, optical pillar machines, or (most commonly today) zograscopes.

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