Printing: a Flourishing Business at the British Museum

In an era of invasive and compulsive photography, it’s not easy to look at the art of printing, that fascinating ride that, from artisans to entrepreneurs, created a business made of ideas, hopes and…sales. Prints of maps, playing cards and wallpaper, but also portraits and banknotes, caricatures and landscapes, are at the centre of the exhibition The Business of Prints, at the British Museum. In part, inspired by the book The Print before Photography by Antony Griffiths, published last year by the British Museum Press, the first work that ever tried to explain how the world of printing really works, the exhibition concentrates on production, fonts, uses, the collecting of prints and the preoccupation over sales and quality. Works by masters such as Dürer, Rembrandt and Goya are on display next to works by lesser-known artists, almost forgotten and next to, for example, series of devotional saints sold by street vendors and worn by people as amulets. A voyage through time, as well as a look at the most wide array of subjects, created in multiple printings, with the hope that people would buy them.
Samantha De Martin - © 2017 for Bulgari Hotel London