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November 18th, 1996
Prints By Old Masters And Their Admirers And Emulators Presented In Museum Exhibition

Twentieth-century viewers have come to value originality as a crucial component of artistic talent, but for centuries the ability to work in the style of an admired earlier artist was a highly valued skill. "In the Manner of...": Imitation, Emulation and Forgery in Old Master Printmaking, an exhibition on view in the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Berman Gallery from December 21, 1996, through March 16, 1997, will present over 70 examples of this practice. Prints on display span the 15th through 19th centuries, including works by Mantegna, Rembrandt and Degas. Although most of the prints shown were honest demonstrations of their creators' abilities to work "in the manner of" other artists, several of them were actually intended as forgeries.

The exhibition begins with a section devoted to the works of 17th-century Northern engravers, including Hendrick Goltzius, shown in conjunction with their models by earlier artists like Albrecht Durer. As one of the most influential printmakers of all time, Rembrandt is represented by a selection of his own etchings and by interpretations of his work by other artists, ranging from his own lifetime through the 19th century. The ability to work in the style of another artist was particularly admired in 18th-century Germany, where some printmakers proudly exhibited their versatility by working after a wide variety of Dutch and Italian masters. "In the Manner of..." includes works from 18th-century German Rococo and romantic artists, displayed beside the 17th-century prints that inspired them. Although the nature of emulation changed during the 19th century, printmakers as famous as Degas and Bracquemond looked to predecessors such as Rembrandt for inspiration. The exhibition concludes with a selection of 19th-century prints and their models.

The strength and breadth of the Museum's holdings in old master prints are due to the discernment and generosity of Philadelphia's early collectors. The collections of Charles M. Lea and William S. Pilling were given to the Museum in 1928 and 1933 respectively. The collections nearly doubled in size and new areas of strength when in 1985, through the generosity of Muriel and Philip Berman, some 42,000 prints by European masters of the 16th through 19th centuries were acquired from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. This group was comprised largely of three major collections: that of John S. Phillips, bequeathed to the Academy in 1876; John F. Lewis, given in 1925; and John T. Morris, given in 1933. Stacey Sell, Cataloguer of the Berman Gift of European Prints, has organized "In the Manner of..." under the supervision of John Ittmann, the Museum's Curator of Prints.

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