The copper-plate engraving is known in Belarus since the late 16th – early 17th centuries.
Maps and easel graphics ordered from abroad are the earliest samples of etching in Belarus. The exhibition features a rare reedition (1575) of a copper-plate etching by Nuremberg engraver Zundt which depicts King’s Sigismund Augustus reception of ambassadors in Grodno. A copy of the eminent Radzivills’ Map of the 17th century performed by Nesvizh master Tomazs Makowski is also on display.
In the early 17th century the etching becomes the main technique of illustration of Belarusian books printed in Latin letters. The exposition presents the masterpiece of book graphics of the 17th century – Rosarium et Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis... (1678) with two original series of engravings by Belarusian artist Alexander Tarasevich.
The etching eventually appears in Cyrillic editions as well. A striking example are engravings by Leonty Tarasevich for Liturgikon (1692–1695) which are also on display.
The exposition includes as well etchings by masters of the Nesvizh printing house of the 18th century. Among them there are portraits by G. Leybovich for the album Portraits of the Radzivills Noble Family and engravings by M. Zhukovsky for Ursula Radzivill's collection of plays Comedies and Tragedies.
Illustrations to P. Ricaut’s Turkish Monarchy performed by French artists S. Leclerc and N. Cochin (1670) and Belarusian publisher and engraver Maxim Voshchanka (1678) manifest the influence of West-European art of book engraving on Belarusian etching.
The exposition features Moscow collections of Simeon Polotsky’s sermons with metal-plate engravings made by Russian masters and based on drawings created by Simeon Polotsky.
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