The Printed Image Within a Culture of Print: Prints, Publishing and the Early modern Arts in Europe, 1450 – 1700

Saturday, 9 April 2011, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London

Call for Papers Deadline 10 January 2011


From the fifteenth through the seventeenth century, the advent of print utterly changed the production of images. A repertoire of images of all kinds, from the crudest woodcut to the most virtuosic engraving, from broadsides of wonders and prodigies to pictures reproducing famous paintings and sculptures, was put into the hands of both image-makers and consumers of images. New possibilities for allusion and intertextuality came into being thanks to this bridge between the image and its publics. And the publication of printed images, a commercial venture, widened the spectrum of those who bought images, producing new kinds of viewers and readers.

This one-day conference focuses on the relations between print culture and the visual arts as a whole, looking not only at the artist’s print as produced by the peintre-graveur, but at the relations between the entire spectrum of print and what we think of now as ‘fine art’.

Since the 1990s when the studies of Roger Chartier inspired work across many historical disciplines, much has been claimed for the impact of printed media on social, intellectual and cultural life in early modernity. The study of popular culture, the history of mentalités, book history and reception studies across a diverse range of periods and cultures have all profited from opening up the area known loosely as print culture. Art historical studies, however, have not often referred to this body of research. Bringing together some of the disciplines that study print culture to focus on the image and the printed text opens up new questions of concern to historians and literary historians as well as to students of the art print.

We invite papers across the disciplines of print studies.  Issues that we suggest are relevant include:

  • printed images used within legal or educational contexts, ceremonies and festivities (‘thesis’ prints, for example)
  • the effect of printed images on the readership of books, political pamphlets, broadsides and ballads
  • the printed image incorporated within other media, such as paintings or architecture
  • the publication of artists’ biographies and printed portraits of artists, changing relations between artists and their publics
  • the publication of collections: the gathering of paintings, sculpture, and printed images accruing new significance through their dissemination in print
  • publication and the discourse of the arts in early modernity: the effect of print on artists’ biographies, manuals on the crafts of image making, or critical reflections about the nature of artistic beauty
  • printed text and printed image: the dialogue and argument between word and image within printed publications

Proposals of 200-300 words (for 20 min papers) may be sent by email by 10 January 2011, to or by mail to Dr. Sheila McTighe, Emily Gray and Anita Sganzerla, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, the Strand, London WC2R 0RN  UK

Organised by: Dr. Sheila McTighe (Senior Lecturer, The Courtauld Institute of Art), Emily Gray (PhD candidate, The Courtauld Institute of Art) and Anita Sganzerla (PhD candidate, The Courtauld Institute of Art).