Printmaking in Paris: The Rage for Prints at the Fin de Siècle

Book Review

  • Printmaking in Paris: The Rage for Prints at the Fin de Siècle

  • by Fleur Roos Rosa de Carvalho and Marije Vellekoop
  • 184 pages, 205 color and 5 black-and- white illustrations
  • Published by the Mercatorfonds / Yale University Press, 2013
  • $45 / £40

In 1897 Camille Pissarro wrote to his son Lucien, “No one pays attention nowadays to anything but prints; it’s a rage, the young generation produces nothing else.”1 This remark lends both substance and title to the Van Gogh Museum’s recent publication Printmaking in Paris: The Rage for Prints at the Fin de Siècle. Though artists’ prints have a steady and enthusiastic following today, the spectacular popularity they had at the turn of the 20th century was of a different order altogether: prints appeared in galleries but also plastered on city walls, crowded into the vitrines of dealers, embedded in journals and were passionately sought out by a bevy of knowledgeable collectors.

Both a survey and a revisionist history, Printmaking in Paris was published to accompany the 2012 exhibition “Beauty in Abundance: Highlights from the Print Collection of the Van Gogh Museum.” The multitude of artists included gave evidence of the medium’s adoption by a wide range of practitioners; some 100 works were selected from the institution’s print holdings, which at that time numbered about 1,300 and have since grown to almost 2,000.
 
 
 
 

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  1. Camille Pissarro, quoted in Fleur Roos Rosa de Carvalho, “The Original Print: All the Rage at the Fin de Siècle,” in Printmaking in Paris: The Rage for Prints at the Fin de Siècle (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 11. []