The nineteenth century was an innovative period in the history of printmaking. Many artists rejected traditionally taught practices and principles and established a new aesthetic language for prints that focused on design and craft.
In 2017 the Colby Museum expanded its holdings of nineteenth-century works on paper by acquiring over 350 prints by American artist and educator Arthur Wesley Dow as part of the Lunder Collection. A Vision for Composition brings a selection of these Dows into dialogue with other printmakers from the collection, namely Mary Cassatt, Utagawa Hiroshige, Katsushika Hokusai, and James McNeill Whistler.
Rather than create single, mimetic descriptions of nature or place, these printmakers worked in series and used color, line, shading, cropping, and other techniques to develop variations on themes. The exhibition also examines the fluidity of this aesthetic approach by including a small selection of photographs, paintings, and pastels.