Printmaking has long been a way for artists to promote their work. Durer used woodcuts and engravings in the late 1400s to promote his artistic skills and Rembrandt and Wenceslas Hollar experimented with etching in the 17th century. In the 18th century Richard Earlom engraved Claude Lorrain's drawings in the Liber Veritatis which inspired Turner to produce his Liber Studiorum between 1806 and 1824. William Blake also spent his teenage years in the 18th century learning engraving and as a result was able to create, print and publish his illustrated poems himself. He devised a new method of relief etching to produce his books in colour. The only part of the process he was not involved in was making the paper.

In the 19th century artists from the Realists Courbet and Millet to the Impressionists Degas and Pissaro experimented with the new form of lithography. Toulouse-Lautrec used the medium to celebrate modernity in his energetic posters advertising cafe concerts and dances. Picasso in particular took inspiration from the printmakers of the 19th century and found that print gave him opportunities to experiment and break artistic rules. The modern prints in Bristol Museum & Art Gallery's collection provide a snapshot of Picasso and his peers in Europe. By 1945 Joan Miro, Georges Braque, Picasso and Fernand Leger were all firmly established artists who had built careers in Paris for over 30 years. The four were friends and together they shared their ideas and experiences and continued to experiment with forms and techniques, including the prints you can see here.

image: The Smile with Flamboyant Wings, lithograph, by Joan Miro [Mb4704]