Parmigianino - Narcissus at the Spring ; after Parmigianino
Old master prints that were made in Germany during the 16th century from The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art. The term ‘old master print’ describes artworks that were made by a printing technique originating from the beginning of 15th century throughout the year 1830. It is well-known in the art trade but an unsophisticated person could simply confuse it with decorative or popular prints. Master prints were widely spread and popular at the end of the 15th century when paper became available and cheap. The term covered several techniques: woodcut, engraving, and etching. Many European artists like Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, and Francisco Goya that now are famous for their paintings, initially acquired their international reputation as print masters. As for subjects of the master prints, there were religious topics alongside with social ones: сhivalry scenes, tournaments, battles and so-called ‘Gardens of Love’. Usually, artists didn’t sign their works, and it was Albrecht Dürer who was the first to leave his name on a master print. The collection includes old master prints that were made in Germany during the 16th century. All these images were gathered by the New York Public Library.
Printmaking in woodcut and engraving came to Northern Italy within a few decades of their invention north of the Alps. Engraving probably came first to Florence in the 1440s, the goldsmith Maso Finiguerra (1426–64) used the technique. Italian engraving caught the very early Renaissance, 1460–1490. Print copying was a widely accepted practice, as well as copying of paintings viewed as images in their own right.