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Renaissance engravings are objects of exquisite beauty and incomparable intricacy that are composed entirely of lines. Artists began using this intaglio process in Europe as early as 1430. This captivating catalogue focuses on the height of the medium, from 1480 to 1650, when engravers made dramatic and rapid visual changes to engraving technique as they responded to the demands of reproducing artworks in other media. The Brilliant Line follows these visual transformations and offers new insight into the special inventiveness and technical virtuosity of Renaissance and Baroque (Early Modern) engravers. The three essays discuss how engraving’s restrictive materials and the physical process of engraving informed its visual language; the context for the spread of particular engraving styles throughout Europe; and the interests, knowledge, and skills that Renaissance viewers applied when viewing and comparing engravings by style or school.

Publication Date


Document Type

Exhibition Catalog


Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design


Providence, Rhode Island


exhibitions; engraving; engravers; prints; 15th century; 16th century; 17th century; Renaissance; Germany; Italy; German; Italian; French; Dutch


Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture | Fine Arts | Printmaking


Catalog of an exhibition held at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, R.I., Sept. 18, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010 and the Mary and Leigh Block Museum, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., April 9-June 20, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 154-155) and index.
Most of the prints in this exhibition are from the RISD Museum of Art collection, with loans from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Houghton Library, Harvard University.

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The Brilliant Line