The rendering of religious and mythological figures and scenes has been common in Western fine art for centuries. This subject is routinely found in the works of the so-called “Old Masters,” and continues to provide inspiration for many artists today. Using the print media allowed budding and established artists alike to create works more accessible to the merchant or commercial classes than master oil paintings. The term “Old Masters” is thought to have originated in the mid-nineteenth century, and is often used in reference to painters of advanced skill who worked in Europe before the turn of the nineteenth century.
Featuring well-known characters such as Jesus from the Christian Bible and Hercules from Roman mythology, and popular scenes such as baptisms and battles, this collection of prints advertises the technical abilities and creative craftsmanship of the “Old Masters.” A printmaker’s œuvre (an artist’s body of work) included both real and imagined beasts, real and imagined scenes, to create works for the printmakers’ patrons and the public. Some of the artists in Fantastic Prints are more widely known, Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669) and Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528) for example, while others are less familiar to the general public such as Hendrick Goltzius (Dutch, 1558–1617) and Jan Lievens (Dutch, 1607–1674).
Above: Jan Lievens (Dutch, 1607–1674), St. Jerome in Penitence (detail), about 1631, etching on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Jr., in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Sr., 1992.3
Featuring well-known characters such as Jesus from the Christian Bible and Hercules from Roman mythology, this collection of prints showcases the fantastical art of Old Master printmaking
Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama.