The Northern and Italian Renaissances in Europe during the 14th to 17th centuries saw a new birth in learning, politics, and culture. New and rediscovered ideas in design, science, culture, humanism, anatomy, perspective, and technology had a profound impact on Western Art. One of the most notable outcomes was the rise of print as a form of art, establishing artists such as Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein, and Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn as printmaking masters.
Prior to the advent of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg around 1440, books were primarily handwritten by scribes and uniquely illustrated by artists. With the printing press, publishers could mass-produce books and images. Artists and craftsmen soon adapted and advanced the new technology to create lasting masterpieces. Not as costly as paintings and sculptures, prints were accessible to far more of the public. Artists, such as Dürer, made the sale of prints integral to their practice.
The Muskegon Museum of Art has a significant collection of woodcuts and engravings from 14th to 17th century Europe. On display are prints of both religious and popular subject matter by Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein, Lucas Van Leyden, Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Martin Schongauer, Michael Wohlgemuth, and others. The Rise of Print: Rembrandt & Company displays a visual record of the growing complexity in skill and concept in Renaissance printmaking.