Claes Jansz Visscher (1587-1652) The Far-famed House of Nassau or Orange, ca. 1628-29
Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
“Fake News & Lying Pictures: Political Prints in the Dutch Republic” at Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Aug 25, 2022 to Dec 17, 2022
While the Dutch Golden Age, roughly 1500 through 1800, may be best known for producing masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer, it was also a politically fraught period, one that produced some of the earliest examples of political printmaking. And thanks to curator Maureen Warren, KAM has acquired the largest museum collection of early modern Dutch prints outside of Europe. In the past year, over 100 Dutch prints have been added to KAM’s already substantial print collection.
“Fake News and Lying Pictures,” reveals the past roots of prevalent tactics in art, such as trolling, spreading false information, ridiculing public figures, and promoting unrest. The prints in the exhibition range from allegories, satires, cartoon strips, portraits, maps, and news prints from the 17th century and reveal how people across class and throughout Europe participated in robust and sometimes violent debates via print media. This exhibition explores the complex visual strategies early modern printmakers in the United Provinces used to memorialize historical events, lionize and demonize domestic and international leaders, and form consensus for collective action.
The exhibition will be on view at Krannert Art Museum (KAM) in Fall 2022, before traveling to three other venues in Spring 23, Fall 23, and Spring 24. It consists of 100 prints and illustrated books (55 in the traveling version), with with allegories, satires, cartoon strips, portraits, maps, and “news prints” (images of current events). More…
Printmaking in the Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic had much to offer artists: an influx of wealth and innovative ideas from religious and political refugees; new knowledge and commodities from global trade and exploration; new art markets; and more. However, the Dutch had no means of effectively censoring the media. Printmakers exploited this unprecedented freedom to criticize leaders at home and abroad and to try to shape political policy and action. The decentralized nature of the Dutch government also led to chronic infighting between rival factions, as well as to international conflicts about sovereignty, trade routes, and territories. This volatility only provided more fodder for printmakers to create images, which numerous audiences relied upon to stay informed, celebrate victories and mourn defeats, and to stoke the fires of partisanship.
Dutch printmakers experimented with graphic visual language in a daring and subversive fashion. They supplemented conventions and tropes inherited from medieval and Renaissance maps, city views, book illustrations, news prints, and polemical prints and established new forms of expression. While some of their prints employ visual puns and humor that even the illiterate could enjoy, others were captioned in Latin or French as well as Dutch, enticing educated elites across Europe to explore the relationship between text and image. Through mercantile and diplomatic channels, Dutch political prints transcended national and temporal boundaries to make a lasting impact.