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18th-century “print rooms” were elaborately decorated spaces in which prints were collaged on walls to demonstrate the cultural sophistication of their creators.Inspired by this practice, The Print Room is an immersive exhibition that explores transfer-printed ceramics and their role in print culture. The transfer-print technique originated in England in the 1750s, allowing pottery manufacturers to apply a printed image to the surface of ceramics. This process enabled makers to decorate vessels with similar, and often the same, images and text that appeared in other printed media. By the end of the 18th century, the rapidly expanding American market became one of the largest importers of English transferware.
The proliferation of prints, books and pamphlets in the 18th-century nourished the Enlightenment, and transferware facilitated the circulation of these popular images and ideas in new ways. These wares brought issues of cultural and political concern into homes on both sides of the Atlantic, where pitchers, plates, and teacups bearing printed images were used everyday or were prominently displayed. Presented alongside prints and printed ephemera, transfer-printed ceramics emerge as important vehicles for visual, textual and cultural exchange.
The Print Room considers the complex and intricate technical processes that allowed reproducible images to be applied to ceramic items. It displays the wide variety of patterns and images that makers invented and appropriated for use on ceramics, including eastern-inspired chinoiserie designs, commemorative portraits, and reproductions of popular paintings.
Wednesday, January 22, 6 p.m.