Long before the invention of photography, images were disseminated for public consumption through the print medium. British painters and sculptors worked with printmakers and print publishers to distribute images of their artworks in the form of engravings, etchings, and mezzotints, which in turn helped make those works popular. A mezzotint’s high tonal contrast imitated similar lighting effects in Joseph Wright of Derby’s paintings while engraving’s intricate linework rendered onto paper the narrative drama of Benjamin West’s canvases. Printmakers like Richard Earlom, who specialized in making such reproductive works, possessed a high level of artistic skill and technical ability to successfully translate the original image into the print medium.
The market for reproductive prints grew exponentially in the 18th century with print shops opening across London and some sellers distributing internationally. The availability and affordability of reproductive prints also spurred the emergence of new collectors who enjoyed curating and displaying them in their homes. Everyone a Curator tells the story of the reproductive print in 18th-century Britain with a focus on popular contemporary subjects and the printmaking methods that made the creation of these artworks possible.
This exhibition is curated by Laura Minton, Curator of Exhibitions; Douglas Fordham, Professor and Chair, UVA Department of Art; Lawrence O. Goedde, Professor, UVA Department of Art; and Jennifer Marine, PhD candidate, UVA Department of Art.
This exhibition is made possible through support from The Fralin Museum of Art Volunteer Board. The Fralin Museum of Art’s programming is generously supported by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. Thanks to our in-kind donors: WTJU 91.1 FM and Ivy Publications LLC’s Charlottesville Welcome Book.