Digital Commonwealth

The Boston Printmakers Collection

Boston Public Library

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The idea for establishing The Boston Printmakers came from faculty members and students at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, whose goal was to promote printmaking in Boston.

At the invitation of Arthur Heintzelman, Boston Public Library’s first Keeper of Prints and an internationally known etcher, the group held its first meeting in the library’s Wiggin Gallery in 1947. With the First Members Exhibition, held at the Paine Furniture Company in May 1948, the Boston Printmakers were officially launched. From the 127 prints shown in that first exhibition, 50 were selected for a traveling exhibition that was seen at venues in Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

From 1948 to 1993, the Boston Printmakers held annual members exhibitions. However, the scope of the group has expanded from its local base to a membership that includes artists from across the United States and Canada. In order to accommodate that growth and the greater complexity of organizing an annual exhibition, the Printmakers moved to a biennial format in 1993.

Since the group’s founding, Boston Public Library has maintained its close connection with the Boston Printmakers. From the first award of the Albert H. Wiggin Purchase Prizes to Letterio Calapai and Elizabeth Saltonstall in the 1948 inaugural exhibition, the Boston Printmakers have generously donated prize prints to the library’s collection. In 1997, Boston Public Library installed a retrospective exhibition in honor of the Boston Printmakers’ 50th anniversary, and they donated their print collection and archival materials to the library in appreciation of the many years of support. Boston Public Library also installed an exhibition in honor of the Printmakers 60th anniversary in 2007 and was a major contributor to the book “60 Years of North American Prints 1947-2007” published by the Boston Printmakers in 2009.

Locations in this Collection: