Function and form: Social and technical aspects of prints made in fifteenth century Northern Europe, with special reference to sealprints, pasteprints and sealpasteprints

Bowman, Cynthia L (1982) Function and form: Social and technical aspects of prints made in fifteenth century Northern Europe, with special reference to sealprints, pasteprints and sealpasteprints. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This study asks the questions: how did prints function in fifteenth century Northern European society and how were different types of prints made. The research and conclusions are presented as a series of separate investigations. The first part of the thesis deals with the function of woodcut prints in secular and religious settings. Unusual examples of the use of woodcut prints as decoration and as daily utensils are given in Chapter One. The discussion in Chapter Two is concerned with the relationship between woodcut prints and "the cult of saints", a form of Christian worship popular in late medieval Europe. The imagery and use of woodcut prints of this period is closely integrated with various aspects resulting from devotion to these cults. The second part of the thesis discusses types of prints made in fifteenth century Northern Europe. These vary from the most common forms, woodcut prints and engravings, to the more rare forms, metalcuts, flock-prints, and embroidery- prints. These are discussed in Chapter Three. A more expanded discussion continues in the following three chapters on prints known as sealprints, pasteprints, and sealpaste- prints. Chapter Four looks at the three known sealprints. These are discussed according to their iconography, a description of the print surfaces and materials, and likely methods of production based on their resemblance to other works of art and known methods practised in the fifteenth century. Pasteprints, as a subject of study, present specific problems which do not occur in other types of prints. Many of these can be answered with the results from scientific analyses. To date, very few analyses have been completed and, therefore, the study of pasteprints, which should be based to a large extent on these analyses, is still in its early stages of Investigation and organization. A few of the problems discussed in Chapter Five, with regard to paste- prints, pertain to; how the matrices of these prints were made; why there are layered materials on the print surfaces; and, why does there appear to be more than one "type" of pasteprint. In accordance with the art historical approach followed in the rest of the thesis, information has been acquired by comparing similar types of objects made in the fifteenth century and methods of production practised during that period in Northern Europe. A catalogue, the first of its kind, having both physical descriptions of the prints, scientific analyses (when available), and colour photographs, follows Chapter Five. The last chapter. Chapter Six, discusses the three prints known as sealpasteprints and attempts to relate each of them to a fifteenth century production method and use. Two appendices are provided at the end of the thesis. The first discusses, at some length, the technology of papermaking and its history, the production of paper, and the appreciation of paper with regard to prints. The second appendix describes an experiment in making paper reliefs from a fifteenth century clay mould discussed in Chapter Four. As a contribution to previous research and knowledge, the thesis has a dual purpose. The first is to discuss the socio-historical importance of prints made in fifteenth century Northern Europe and the second is to cover previously ignored aspects of printmaking during this period. The material presented in it is intended to provide both an updated approach to the subjects and encourage further interest and study of fifteenth century prints and printmaking techniques.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Martin Kemp
Keywords: Art history
Date of Award: 1982
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1982-72571
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2019 11:06
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2019 11:06

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