Origins of European Printmaking Fifteenth-Century Woodcuts and Their Public Peter Parshall, Rainer Schoch

Publication date:
15 Sep 2005
Yale University Press
376 pages: 305 x 241mm
53 b-w + 177 color illus.


The first comprehensive history of late medieval printmaking, which transformed image production and led to profound changes in Western culture

This highly anticipated and beautifully illustrated book examines the evolution of early printmaking in late medieval Europe. Through their means of production and the evidence of their utility, prints are explored in a broad social and economic context. Key topics include the complex problem of reconstructing the beginnings of the European woodcut; the practice of copying and dissemination of models endemic to the medium; and the varied functions of the print from the spiritual to the secular.

A team of expert authors examines the many ways in which fifteenth-century woodcuts and  metalcuts reflect the nature of piety and visual experience. Replicated images helped to structure private religious practice, transmit beliefs, disseminate knowledge about material facts, and graph abstract ideas. Mass-produced pictures made it feasible for people of all stations to possess them, thereby initiating a change in the role of images that eventually helped alter the definition of art itself.

The Origins of European Printmaking is an essential book for art historians, students, and collectors, as well as the general reader with an interest in medieval history and culture.

Peter Parshall is curator and head of the department of Old Master prints at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rainer Schoch is vice director and head of the graphic arts collection at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg

'Subtle and informative...with an acute eye for detail...long and informative... The exhibition and its catalogue provide a splendid and scholarly insight into the rich imagery of the woodcuts of the late Middle Ages.' - Jean Michel Massing,