World Graphic Art collection is the most numerous one from the funds of National Art Museum of Moldova. It counts more than 13 000 works of the 16th-20th centuries. It was mainly formed during 1950-1990 as a result of some transfers of works from museums of Moscow and Saint Petersburg and new acquisitions and donations from private persons.
This collection comprises works coming from several countries of Europe and Asia: France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Great Britain, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Japan, Mongolia, and China.
The authors approached all the artistic genres: portrait, landscape, still life, genre subjects. The collection is characterized by a wide diversity of techniques and materials used. Among most frequently used techniques there could be mentioned wood cut, etching, lithography, mezzotint, punched engraving, linoprint etc.
Among the authors one may find the names of Albrecht Durer (1471-1528), Harmensz van Rejn Rembrandt (1606-1669), Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Paul Gavarni (1804-1866), Adolph Menzel (1815-1905), Kilian Bartholomew the Older (17th century), Johann Muller (1759-1805), Auguste Lemaitre (1797-18..), Marie Alexandre Alophe (1813-1863), Ivan Shishkin (1832-1898), Piotr Boreli (1829-1898), Vladimir Favorski (1886-1964), Antonio Tempesta (1555-1630), Francisek Smiglewich (1745-1807), Karl Harman Pfeifer (1769-1829) etc.
The Japanese engraving represents an important part of the funds of National Art Museum of Moldova. Those more than 300 works made in the 17th-20th centuries were created by artists who became famous all over the world and in the history of art: Ando Kwagetsudo (1671-1743), Kiyonaga Torii I (1752-1815), Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1864), Ando Hiroshige (1797-1850), Taiso Eshitoshi (1839-1892), Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) etc.
Japanese engraving as a major art genre appeared in the 17th century. Ishikawa Moronobu (1625-1694) is the one who simultaneously with book illustrations made the first “independent” serial black and white engravings. He was the first to open his own studio where he taught apprentices. Engravings were made by hand by three people. Later, in 1765, Harunobu becomes the father of the polychrome engraving by overlapping 7-8-10 colors. Thus the ukiyo-e movement – picture of the floating world - is set. In Edo city (Tokyo today) there was a district of publishers of popular books who at the middle of the 17th century began to use the engraving method to multiply the pictures and sell them at a low price. The favorite subjects are scenes of daily life: festivities, holidays, scenes from courtesans’ houses, portraits of beautiful women (bijin-ga), portraits of kabuki theatre actors (yakusha-e) and landscapes.
Representatives of ukiyo-e movement gave expressivity and grace to the Japanese engraving creating an authentic, fascinating and full of life picture of Edo epoch.
Once Japan opened its gates to the West the art pieces of “floating world” got spread in France and lately in the entire world.
There are several legends about the “discovering” of the Japanese engraving by French. It is said that in 1857 Monet found in a Dutch grocer’s shop several Japanese engravings which were used as wrapping paper. From the other side, brothers Goncourt and Boudlaire are thought to be the first ones who launched the “Japanese fashion”.
The first works that served as a base for the foundation of the World Graphic Art Collection were signed by the author Pavel Shilingovski donated in accordance with his last will to National Art Museum of Moldova in 1947.