Making an Impression: Prints
From the 16th century, printmaking from copper plates made portraiture widely available, by reproducing existing portraits and creating new images. Printing from metal made it possible to produce fine lines, making the method superior to earlier techniques using wood. Produced in multiple copies, prints were cheaper than other art forms. They were often displayed in public and could be enjoyed across all classes of society. British printmakers had greater freedom of expression than their European counterparts. Satirical prints were popular, often criticising government or royalty. Prints could be enjoyed in more active ways than other art forms. They could be framed like paintings, bound into albums, collected in portfolios, or pasted onto walls and furniture.