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Until 27 November this year, you can see an exhibition presenting the oldest European prints at the Schwarzenberg Palace in Prague. The exhibition is organized by Prague's National Gallery. Those interested in the history of printmaking and the history of the late Middle Ages will be able to marvel at the woodcuts and metal engravings. 

Exhibition in Prague

In an intimate exhibition at the National Gallery in Prague, the viewer will see works by the prominent German artists of the late Middle Ages, Martin Schongauer (c. 1450-53 to 1491), Michael Wolgemut (1434-1519) and Israhel van Meckenem (c. 1445-1503). The surviving and displayed 15th-century prints that were not integral to the books are rare.

Outstanding artists and their technique

The woodcut, the first printmaking technique used to print paper, was developed in Europe around 1400, before which a wooden mould was used to print fabric. Its development can be traced to 15th-century Germany. After woodcut, metal engraving entered the permanent repertoire of techniques. The first woodcut and metal engraving prints were ephemeral prints, and it was not until some time later, around the 1470s, that illustration prints began to be incorporated into books. 

The prints on display at Prague's National Gallery depict biblical scenes and saints. These were typical subjects depicted in graphic prints at the time. The exhibition features, for example, a crucifixion scene or the Archangel Michael fighting a dragon. It is worth mentioning that Michael Wolgemut, whose work can be seen in the exhibition, was Albrecht Dürer's teacher.

The Schwarzenberg Palace and sgraffito decoration

The Schwarzenberg Palace is a Renaissance palace located in Prague's Hradčany district. Its construction was probably completed around 1567 and the entire building is built in a T-shape. The façade is decorated with a beautiful decoration made in the sgrafitto technique. This consisted of applying successive layers of coloured plaster or coloured clay and scraping off fragments of the top layers while they were still dry. 

Added 2022-10-31 in by Alicja Graczyk