The exhibition illustrates the influence of Italian ideas about art and artists that spread throughout Europe from the time of the Renaissance.
Fifteenth-century Italy was the source of a major shift in thinking about art and the status of the artist. Art moved from illustrating abstract religious ideas to describing the real world. The role of the artist changed from that of an anonymous craftsman to a named individual.
Drawing became an essential part of developing images during this Renaissance period. Drawings themselves became valued as representing the visible thoughts of the artist in producing a finished work of art and were avidly collected.
Making prints from engravings and etchings was another fifteenth century development. These processes enabled artists to run off large editions of a single image, giving them an easily marketable product. For example, the engravings of Andrea Mantegna were a primary vehicle for the spread of Renaissance ideas throughout Europe.