Lithograph portrait of Berthe Morisot

Past exhibition

20 February 2020 – 10 January 2021

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This exhibition explored the British Museum's rich collection of French Impressionist prints.

Drawing on the Museum's rich collection of prints – from Manet to Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec to Cézanne – explore the flourishing Impressionist print movement of late 19th century France in this extraordinary free display.

Etchings and lithographs were eagerly collected by a burgeoning middle class from the 1860s, thanks largely to print publishers such as Ambroise Vollard, who commissioned many artists of the period to contribute to his lavish print portfolios. 

He commissioned Cézanne, for example, who had previously shown no interest in the medium, to produce the famous lithograph Les Baigneurs.

As Paris exploded with life and creativity, the Impressionists experimented with printmaking, producing striking images of modern city life. Some were heavily influenced by the craze for Japanese art, known as 'japonisme', influenced by the economy of line, unusual viewpoint and flattening of forms that were characteristic of Japanese prints.

This display captures the vibrant and dynamic world of the Impressionists as they explored the exciting possibilities of printmaking.