Lasting Impressions

20th-century Portrait Prints

From etchings to a plasticine print, Lasting Impressions brings together works that document the renaissance of the portrait print from the early 20th century to the present day.

By the late 1800s, printmaking had undergone such monumental technological changes that its status had sunk to that of mere reproduction. However, in response, traditional techniques were revived by many artists, who produced prints that could stand for themselves as works of art. In the later 20th century, more experimental and unorthodox methods were explored, often with dramatic results.

This exhibition explores how artists including Eric Gill, Oskar Kokoschka and Richard Hamilton have used different print processes to convey the personalities and circumstances of sitters as colourful as Quentin Crisp, Lucian Freud, Frank Bruno, Robert Plant  – and even an entire House of Commons – and also their relationships with the artist portraying them. The prints will be accompanied by a range of printmaking tools and books from the University’s Cadbury Research Library and Research and Cultural Collections, for which some of the artists featured produced illustrations. Co-curated by postgraduate students from the University’s Art History, Film and Visual Studies department, the display is the third a collaborative series with the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Above Image: Michael Rothenstein, Michael Rothenstein, 1981. © National Portrait Gallery, London.

Events related to this exhibition have included:

  • Drypoint Print Workshops.
  • A Lunchtime Lecture discussing Portrait Prints from the National Portrait Gallery with Associate Curator, Rosie Broadley.
  •  A Gallery Talk introducing the Lasting Impressions exhibition with Robert Wenley, Deputy Director of the Barber Institute.
  • Hidden Histories: A spy, a spinner and other sitters’ stories by Michael Escolme and Erin Shakespeare, MA students and Co-curators of Lasting Impressions.
  • Creating Lasting Impressions: A Guide to Printmaking Techniques by Annette Eldridge and Anne Russell, MA students and Co-curators of Lasting Impressions.
  • A Lunchtime Lecture exploring Printmaking in 20th-century Portraiture by Gemma Wright, Education and Programme Manager, Leicester Print Workshop.
  • Writing Workshops with Writer in Residence Jacqui Rowe.

6 June - 28 September 2014

Lady Barber Gallery

Comments from our visitors

‘Beautifully insightful, each painting tells a story’

– Nadia N, 28/06/14


‘Bold and beautiful prints, a stunning collection’

– Helena, Birmingham, 01/07/14


‘Safe to say it has left a lasting impression’

– Tom, Birmingham, 12/07/14


‘Inspiring and enlightening’

– Christine van Deventer, Cape Town, 14/07/14


‘Third visit and still loving it!’

– The Moors family, Stourbridge, 19/07/14


‘Wonderful range of intro/extrospection’

– Daryl A, Berkeley, USA, 30/07/14


‘Great curatorial work by the student curators – a wonderfully fascinating and intriguing collection’

– Sophie Rycroft, Edgbaston, 30/07/14


‘Astonishingly some original works I thought I’d never see in my lifetime. Many thanks!’

– Philomena Bacon, Norwich, 28/08/14


Booking information.

To book, contact 0121 414 2261 or