Skip to main content

Prints

With an estimated 100,000 individual sheets, the prints in the Graphic Collection form the largest collection area. Starting with early prints from the second half of the 15th century, the collection contains works from various epochs and schools of European art history up to the present day. The holdings also document the increasing differentiation of printing techniques, starting with early woodcuts and engravings through to etchings, mezzotints and lithographs, to more modern photomechanical processes or screenprints, to name but a few examples.

In the right half of the picture sits a woman with angel wings holding a compass and a book. Next to her, a boyish putto sits on a millstone in front of a house wall crowned with a cornice and hung with a pair of scales, an hourglass, a bell and a square of numbers. A dog and various tools lie on the ground in front of a tetrahedron. In the background of the picture, the sea with the coast is depicted on the left. The dark sky above is illuminated by a comet.
Albrecht Dürer: Melencolia I , 1514, engraving, © The Graphic Collection of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Reproduction prints – that is, prints based on already existing works of art such as paintings – especially from the period between the 17th and 19th centuries are in the majority. They were mainly used as master sheets in lessons at the Academy and represent rich illustrative material on European art of the modern era.

In the centre of the picture Eve, standing under an apple tree, is holding an apple in her hands, while Adam, on the left of the picture, seems to be warning against eating the apple with a raised finger. On the right edge of the picture, a large, dragon-like creature is winding its way up the trunk of the tree.
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn: The Fall (Adam and Eve) , 1638, etching, © The Graphic Collection of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

There are large collections of works by many outstanding masters of printmaking. These include selections of works by Jacques Callot, Daniel Chodowiecki, Albrecht Dürer, Hendrik Goltzius, Lucas van Leyden, Andrea Mantegna, Marcantonio Raimondi and Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn as well as Gunter Damisch, Alfred Hrdlicka, Rudolf Jettmar, Ferdinand Schmutzer, William Unger and Herwig Zens.

In the left, dark half of the picture, the etching shows death and sin as huge, naked human figures. In front of them, from left to right, small, likewise naked people are moving into hell as a stream of sinners.
Rudolf Jettmar: The Bridge to Hell , 1899, etching, © The Graphic Collection of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna