Karr Schmidt 2011

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Karr Schmidt, Suzanne. Altered and Adorned: Using Renaissance Prints in Daily Life. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.

Using Renaissance Prints

"Even more than books using Gutenberg's new movable type, single-sheet prints were revolutionary, versatile objects, potentially limitless in quantity and highly portable." (9)
"Perhaps in response to the taste for alteration, as the Renaissance progressed, prints were increasingly published with conspicuously absent or empty banderoles (decorative banners) or heraldic elements so that viewers might fill in the blanks themselves." (14)

Jost Amman, entire book of fill-in-the-blank images in 1579 book

Single- and Multi-sheet Prints

paper images meant to be used on hatpins (24)

"Larger composite prints were luxury items, not so much because the sheets themselves w ere expensive but beause purchasers had to afford enough room to display these big works. Their similarity to framed paintings was sometimes made even more explicit with the addition of printed frames." (25)


The Submersion of Pharoah's Army in the Red Sea, designed ca. 1515; many printed woodcuts put together to make a large wallhanging

Sebald Beham; "produced repeatable wallpaper patterns that form phalluses and vaginas when tiled and might thus have been suitable for the bedchamber. "(31)

Pieter Schenk, The Game of Fortress Building -- early board game

Prints and Books

Hartmann Schedel, author of Nuremberg Chronicle, "tucked some three hundred prints into various volumes in his library without remarking on the practice in his book inventory" (39)

Applied Prints

pattern books

"While woodcuts in other editions show women working at a small loom directly from the book, these patterns were in fact meant to be pricked with a needle at the major points of the design, creating holes through which a charcoal powder would be pressed and the image transferred onto the fabric to be cut out." (51)

printed fans and headdresses; Agostino Carracci's fan-shaped headdress possibly designed in 1589 (51)

no 15c engravings have survived on their original boes but a few 16c have, by Jost Amman particularly; on cheap cylindrical or oval "splint" boxes" (56)

~100 ornamented boxes are known "but their purpose and even their intended users remain uncertain" (59)

Religious Prints as Substitute Objects

Heiligthusbuch, 1509 book of reliquaries illustrated by Lucas Cranach th eElder and commissioned by Elector Frederick of Saxony -- amassing of relics in the print medium (60)

Einsield Madonna; triangular image of "black Madonna"; "Most are engraved or etched images on small cards or pieces of fabric or vellum; one even bears the shredded remnants of a black veil attached by an embossed seal above a woodcut of the Virgin, a sort of diploma proving the owner visited a particular shrine. Some impressions of larger single-sheet prints added other festive elements == including the painted papers, foil, and fabric that fill holes cut in an 18c woodcut of the Einsiedeln Madonna." (67)

Convent of Macarons, 17-18c, mixed media embroider and printed images, framed

edible prints; Johann Melchior Gutwein, Schluckbilder or Esszettel (literally slips of paper for eating" or "pictures for swallowing" (1740) (68)

  • "The little pills or tabs were in fact meant to be cut out and eaten (or rolled up and taken with water) to stave off disease or even black magic. Some were fed to ailing livestock or combined into baked goods as a further apotropaic remedy." (68)

Ursulines retained the copper plates for these edible designs

waffle-like host iron with intaglio lines for communion wafers (69)

Printed Scientific Objects

Regiomontanus, early volvelle calendars

Ratdolt, decorative woodcut book covers; personalized 1476 Calendar by leaving a blank coat of arms in the title page border (76) -- earliest modern title page, an advance that appeared nowhere else until 1500

flap anatomies (82) -- useful description of how they were printed and assembled

Remmelin; not possible for buyers to have done the assembly -- requires specialist knowledge, no printed instructions to binders; not much streamlining of printing since Vogtherr

Lucas Kilian; uncut restrike printing of flap plates; helps show how they were put together (89)

Chicago Kilian impressions have a smudge of something with iron in it over Eve's genitals -- perhaps blood, indicating a menstrual cycle? (91)

"Affixed and Ordered" Printmaking