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Printmaking in the age of Romanticism, 6 August to 25 October 2009, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Thomas Ryder


The exhibition Printmaking in the Age of Romanticism offers a rare opportunity to see some 150 works of art from the Gallery’s collection of European prints. A number of works will be on display for the first time and many have not been publicly displayed for decades.

Printmaking was a major aspect of the Romantic Movement. Eminent Romantic artists such as William Blake and J M W Turner, Géricault and Delacroix all turned to printmaking in one form or another for its unique capacity to produce aesthetic effects impossible in other media. 

Drawing from an area of real strength in the European print collection, the exhibition features works by these leading figures together with Samuel Palmer, Henry Fuseli, John Martin and Edward Calvert. The exhibition also includes the work of less well known artists such as Gustave Doré, Rodolphe Bresdin and Charles Meryon, who rejected painting altogether to pursue their original visions in the field of printmaking.

The emphasis of the show is on works produced in England and France in the decades before 1850, the heyday of the Romantic Movement. The exhibition also reveals how romantic tendencies in art persisted throughout the 19th century and concludes in the late 1870s with the work of Corot.

The prints cover an amazing variety of subjects – from dramatic scenery, seascapes and ruined abbeys to wild animals and scenes from literature and contemporary life – executed in a range of printmaking media.

Romanticism emerged in the closing years of the 18th century as a powerful force in the development of European music, literature and painting. One of Romanticism’s most enduring legacies is the popular image of the artist as free spirit. Above all, Romantics believed in the primacy of the imagination over reason. Romantic artists were united in their belief that art should be a matter of personal feeling, charged with their own loves and loathings, fears and hopes, dreams and longings.


19 Aug - Peter Raissis, exhibition curator
26 Aug - Michelle Hiscock, artist
2 Sept - Christopher Allen, art historian
9 Sept - Chiara O’Reilly, lecturer, University of Sydney
16 Sept - Simon Cooper, artist and head of studies, National Art School
23 Sept - Josephine Touma, coordinator public programs

19 Aug - Josef Lebovic, exhibition lender and one of Australia’s most respected figures in the field of original prints and photography.
26 Aug - Moffatt Oxenbould, formerly the artistic director of Opera Australia, is well regarded for his contribution to the development of opera in Australia with a career that spans over 40 years.
2 Sept - Emma Ayres, presenter of ABC Classic FM Breakfast, goes to the heart of the matter, discussing music in the age of Romanticism.
9 Sept - Ace Bourke, author A lion called Christian, discusses his amazing experience with his pet lion, Christian whom he bought from Harrods in 1969 and released into wilds of Africa when Christian outgrew his flat in London. 
16 Sept - Bill Henson, artist, discusses his interest in the Age of Romanticism.


On view:6 August � 25 October 2009
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
Telephone:(02) 9225 1744 or recorded information (02) 9225 1790 National Toll Free 1800 679 278
Hours:10am to 5pm, 7 days a week
Art After Hours Wednesday nights until 9pm
Media Information and Interviews:Claire Martin
(02) 9225 1734 or 0414 437 588

IMAGE CREDIT: Thomas Ryder (1746-1810)
after Henry Fuseli (1741-1825)

Titania's Awakening. A Midsummer Night's Dream 1803,
stipple engraving. Collection Art Gallery of New South Wales.