The “Writing” of Modern Life: The Etching Revival in France, Britain, and the U.S., 1850–1940

Generously illustrated with works by both well-known and little-known printmakers, The "Writing" of Modern Life examines the intertwined arts of etching and writing, from the polemical beginnings of the Etching Revival in the 1850s to its twentieth-century afterlife.

During this period, etching was reinvented as an original art form that—like writing—was uniquely fitted to expressions of an artist’s individual personality and the experience of modernity. The essays touch on the relation between the literary and visual arts and offer a new interdisciplinary perspective on the Etching Revival.

This is one in a series of projects at the Smart Museum of Art that has been generously endowed by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The exhibition catalogue was made possible by the Feitler Family Fund.


Elizabeth Helsinger with essays by Martha Tedeschi, Peyton Skipwith, Anna Arnar, and Allison Morehead.

Publication date

January 2009


Paper, 104 pages, 75 halftone illustrations, 8.5" x 11"



Purchase this catalogue

Available for $20 online from the University of Chicago Press or in person at the Smart Museum Shop.