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ID number:  BIRBI-2014.2
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Colin, Paul Emile (1877-1949)
Title / Object name:  Memories of the Past (Souvenirs d'autrefois)
Object type:  Print
Culture:  French
Date made:  after 1902
Materials:  Colour woodcut
Measurements:  294 x 381 mm
Provenance:  Purchased May 2014

Woodcuts first appeared in the 8th century when Buddhist monks in Japan and China used them to reproduce devotional texts. However, they only emerged in Europe at the start of the 15th century, and by the end of the Renaissance they were viewed as inferior to other types of prints, an attitude that continued into the 18th century. Typically, they were used for street banners, broadsides and calendars. This popular aspect, plus their organic qualities and roots in Japanese art, helped revive interest in the technique towards the end of the 19th century when it gained the attention of modernist artists. The strong sepia colour in this work suggests playful nostalgia, while its monotone hue gives a distinctly modern flatness to the image. Colin travelled to Brittany in 1890, where he met Gauguin, whose style soon influenced his prints.

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