Printed Renaissance

The Burgeoning Discourse

Antonio del Pollaiuolo
Italian, 1429–1498
Battle of the Nude Men
c. 1470, plate; this impression printed late 16th or early 17th century
Engraving on paper
15 3/4 x 22 15/16 in.
The Clark, 1955.1425

Fostered by the growing industry of the printed book, discourse and interest in the visual arts had significantly increased by around 1550, and many writers began publishing their views on the philosophy, history, and criticism of art. Meanwhile, a class of professional print workshops gradually emerged, having amassed large inventories of engraved plates after contemporary and historical paintings. A landmark in these developments was Michelangelo’s painting of the Last Judgment, which received much critical attention and was copied by many printmakers. In the second half of the century, prints made after notable works of art were published and reissued on an unprecedented scale. This increasing circulation of text and image greatly facilitated the collecting of graphic material and enabled widespread discussions of major works.