Revolution and Revival

19th Century French Printmaking

February 27 through May 2, 2021

On view in the Hughes and Wilson Galleries


This exhibition from the Museum’s permanent collection of European Master prints celebrates works made in France in the 1800s. While some images on view are the result of exciting new printmaking technologies born of the Industrial Revolution, others are the product of a concurrent revival of traditional printmaking practices known in nineteenth-century France as the Etching Revival.

Among the best known of these etchers who favored the distinctive qualities of prints made by hand—specially-selected inks, processes, and papers—was Charles Meryon (1821–68). His House with a Turret, (rue de la Tixéranderie), is a copper plate etching depicting the “street of weavers” in Paris. Etchers like Meryon were more involved in the printing of their works and, in contrast to imagery in publications manufactured for mass markets, could select materials and decide on processes themselves or in collaboration with a master printer.

Representing the revolution in printmaking is Seal Fishing in the Frigid Sea, published by the firm Goupil et Cie. Unlike the limited editions bearing hand-pulled prints of the Etching Revival, images like Seal Fishing enlivened a profusion of mass manufactured newspapers, journals, and books. Mechanical printing techniques, including lithography, wood and steel engraving, and photomechanical means of reproduction, took over the field as the century wore on, producing more prints faster and at lower costs.

Regardless of their revolutionary or revival origins, together these prints stand as a handsome representation of an important moment in the history of printmaking both in and beyond France.

Above: Camille Pissarro (French, 1831–1903), Peasants Carrying Sticks (Paysannes portant des fagos), 1896, lithograph on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Jr., in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Sr., 1976.226


Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama.


This exhibition was made possible in part by a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

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