Catalogue of Artist’s prints & drawings of the University city, 1880 -1950.
Since print making began in England, there has been a market for views of Oxford, whether it be separately published views and vue d’optiques or the copious amount of prints produced for the histories and guide books. The first prints of Oxford were made by John Bereblock in 1566 for a small pamphlet for Queen Elizabeth’s visit. Since these initial prints Oxford has been a popular subject. There was a demand within the town and around the world for views to be used in alamanacks, postcards and books, and as printmaking was the only means of reproducing images for publication prior to the invention of the camera, the amount of printed views of Oxford is vast. Depictions of the city created before the invention of the camera were for the large part representational rather than artistic expressions. They had to be representational in order to epitomise and convey the city’s architectural highlight.
As a group of prints, this collection illustrates the progressive shift from “straight” and popular views of Oxford to dominance of the artist’s print. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century we enter a prolific and varied period of English printmaking. Whilst artist are making prints for financial gain, the introduction of the camera and various photomechanical processes freed printmakers from their association with making only reproductive views. There was a resurgence of artists experimenting with different printing methods including woodcut and linocut. The end result is that printmaking in various styles came to be seen as an accredited way of making art. The prints were limited in number, handcrafted or a combination, focusing not on making an exact view but imbuing it with a personal style.
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