Overview


Louis XIV / Nanteuil
 
With the edict of St. Jean de Luz in 1660, Louis XIV signaled the Crown's unprecedented support for prints and their makers, officially recognizing printmaking as a liberal art and asserting the artistic status of engravers for the first time. As Paris transformed itself into the printmaking capital of Europe, the state's promotion of printmaking resonated through every aspect of print culture.

Despite the importance of this period for the history of printmaking, no scholar has attempted a synthetic overview since the 1800s. Since then, assumptions and anachronistic concepts have distorted our understanding of the period and much of the work made in it. We could point, for example, to attitudes toward Louis XIV's "propaganda machine"; prints of all types made for it appeared to be mere vehicles for carrying the ideology of absolutism. While the needs of the state are undoubtedly a central part of the story, the history of printmaking during this era is far more complex and richer than is generally recognized.

Printmaking in the Age of Louis XIV reassesses the history of prints and techniques, print production, commerce, and taste and collecting in France from 1660 to 1715, aiming to provide the first broad overview of a watershed period that once was considered the golden age of French printmaking.

Collections


General View of Versailles in 1682 from a collector's album
 
This project will make use of the Getty Research Institute's strong holdings of illustrated festival, emblem, antiquarian, and architectural books. These kinds of volumes were largely absent from the previous exhibitions, an omission that distorts the historical record of print culture in the early modern period.

Outcomes


The Printmaking in the Age of Louis XIV research team will collaborate with the Bibliothèque nationale de France and organize a research lab in 2013 and a symposium in 2014, culminating in an exhibition and accompanying catalog in 2015–16 of more than 110 objects to be shown in Los Angeles and Paris in 2015, the 300th anniversary of Louis XIV's death.