Reynold Weidenaar (1915-1985) 1. Six Ways to Draw on Copper. and drypoint, 1948.
Softground, engraving, mezzotint, etching, aquatint,
PRINTMAKING SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT PRINTMAKING VOLUME LXXV
P R I NT MA K I NG SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT PRINTMAKING. A BRIEF HISTORY OF PRINTMAKING. BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF PROCESSES. For this discussion we will be dealing with the traditional printmaking processes. Relief (woodcut, linoleum cut, wood engraving), Intaglio (etching, engraving, mezzotint, etc.), Lithography, and Serigraphy. In the future we will discuss more modern processes such as digital images. Due to the limitation of space the answers and process descriptions are shortened. You will find expanded descriptions on our web site. I wish to thank the arzists, Bill Behnken, Fred Mershimer, and Emily Trueblood for their assistance in the descriptions of the processes. WHAT IS A PRINT? A print is a work of art printed with ink on paper in multiple impressions. The artist draws and/or carves the image into a matrix. The matrix is then inked and printed on paper to produce multiple impressions of the same image. In modern times these multiple impressions are called the edition.
Front Cover Six Ways to Draw on Copper. Softground, engraving, mezzotint, etching, aquatint, and drypoint, 1948. Edition 200. Signed and titled in pencil. Six examples of printing techniques shown on a wheel, each one a substantial print on its own, each image different: 1. “In the Catskills, New York” is done in softground. 2. “Mountain Cabin -- Tennessee” is an engraving. 3. “Threshers -- Old Mexico” is a mezzotint. 4. “Shipyard Macatawa Michigan” is an etching. 5. “Street Scene -- Washington DC” is an aquatint. 6. “Haystack -- Columbia MO” is done in drypoint. Inscribed “135/200.” Image size 11 x 9” (28 x 23 cm). Very good condition. #72459 $2,000.00
Robert K. Newman, Editor
Is It an Original Work of Art? There are two types of printmaking: reproductive and fine art. A reproductive print copies another work of art, painting, or sculpture. These were very popular from the sixteenth century until today. They were used by artists and scholars to see works of art that were in museums. Around 1900 this type of reproduction went to photography; today it is digital. The fine art print is conceived by the artist to be an original work of art in its own right, not a copy of another work. The artist chooses the techniques that will benefit the image he is creating, sometimes combining multiple printing processes. Is There More Than One? Printmaking is inherently a process of multiple impressions. As with any rule, there are exceptions. State proofs can be single impressions or an abandoned plate might exist in one or two impressions. There is also a process called “Monotype” which yields one impression. However, there is no matrix and by many is considered a printed drawing. In this process the artist draws or paints the image on a printing plate or Plexiglas, then runs it through a press. One impression is made, and if others are wanted, the artist must redraw or repaint the image. Signing and Numbering Pencil signatures began appearing on prints during the second half of the nineteenth century. At this time it was unusual to have a “signed” print. It was after 1900 that the signing of fine art prints by the artist became popular with artists and collectors. Therefore, most prints before 1900 will not be signed. The numbering of individual impressions - started in the first quarter of the twentieth century; however, it was not until the 1960’s that it became a standard in the art industry. Today it is common to have prints numbered within the edition. What is a Matrix? The origin of the word “Matrix” is from the Latin word mater, which means mother. In the dictionary “an environment of material in which something develops. . . .” In printmaking the matrix is the block, plate, stone, or screen that the artist has worked on to create the image that is going to be printed.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF PRINTMAKING. The techniques of relief printing or the woodcut go back almost two-thousand years and, generally, they were printed on fabric. Printmaking, as we understand it - ink on paper, began shortly thereafter. The first paper made in Europe was made by the Muslims living in Spain and Portugal. It spread by the fourteenth century to the city states in Italy where the process of making paper was refined to an art form. Soon thereafter, the first woodcuts began to appear on the market for sale. These early woodcuts are often very crude, as the technique of cutting the block was being refined by artists and craftsmen. Albrecht Durer, born in 1471, is recognized as the first western “master” artist printmaker. His expressive work in woodcut and engraving is still a marvel to behold. Engraving as a process dates back almost as far as the woodcut although the engraving was used on armor and to decorate silver and gold objects. For use as a print making medium, it dates from the late fifteenth century. Etching, the use of acid to carve a line, began towards the end of the sixteenth century. This is the process that Rembrandt used to create the majority of his images during the seventeenth century. Mezzotint an engraving process followed soon thereafter although it did not become popular until the eighteenth century when it was used extensively in England. Lithography was invented in Germany by Alois Senefelder around 1796. However, it was not until the early nineteenth century, when he sold the patents for lithography to the French, did the process take off. With extensive experimentation the French were able to realize fully the potential of this printing process. The first lithographs printed in America were botanical illustrations in Pittsburgh, c.1817. The Bass Otis lithograph of 1819 was the first widely published lithograph. Relief, intaglio, and lithography are all based on drawing or capturing a line. Yet mezzotint and lithography can be tonal, but also anyone who studies drawings knows they are tonal as well. The newest process, the serigraph or screen print, is not directly linked to drawing. It is a stencil process of printing sheets of color. It is interesting to try to date the process of screen print. One can quickly find dates ranging from 2000 B.C. to 1949. The shop has serigraphs that were done in the 1930’s, so it was being done long before 1949. For modern uses, a screen with a stencil to print through dates from the second quarter of the twentieth century. Officially, sometime in the 1930’s the WPA was operating silk screen shops. The forerunner of this process is another stencil process called “pochior.” It dates from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century where it was used to print color sheets on prints and book illustrations. Relief Woodcut, Wood engraving, and Linoleum cut – the process involves printing the top surface of the block. Therefore, the artist uses various knives and gouges to carve into the surface of the block to make the design. The top surface or the uncut areas of the block are inked with a roller then printed on paper. A wood engraving block differs from a wood block by the direction of the grain. A wood engraving block is the end grain of wood, whereas a wood block is the face grain. A wood engraving block will allow finer lines to be cut and more cross-hatching.
Linoleum is a more modern surface. It is smooth and free of wood grain and other defects. Relief is the oldest printmaking process dating back almost two thousand years. To print a relief print, paper is placed on the inked block and pressure is applied by hand with a flat object such as the back of a wooden spoon or with an etching press where the press roller transfers the ink to the paper by exerting pressure. Japanese woodcuts are printed by hand using water-based ink. Relief prints can be printed black and white or in color. If more than one block is being used, a registration system is used to make sure each color is printed in the correct position. In white-line woodcuts, the block is locked into a printing jig, and the paper is attached to the jig. The paper is folded out of the way and each color is then hand painted and rubbed into the paper, one color at a time.
Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514) 2. World Map. [Untitled.] Woodcut, 1493. Published in The Nuremberg Chronicle. Image size 12 1/8 x 17 1/8” (30.9 x 43.5 cm). First edition, with Latin text. Good condition, save for some tiny areas of loss along centerfold (common with this map) and short tear in the lower left margin. Professionally repaired. Black & white. Shirley #19. #42756 $19,500.00 One of the earliest prints in the shop’s collection and a wonderful woodcut map. This is the last Ptolemaic map of the world to appear before dissemination of Columbus’ discoveries in the New World. Published in The Nuremberg Chronicle, in July, 1493, (Latin text edition). Schedel was the editor, and the printer was Anton Koberger who employed the master wood cutters, Michael Wolgemut and Hanns Pleydenwurff, to cut the woodcuts. Albrecht Durer was the apprentice in Koberger’s shop during this time.
Lou Barlow (1908-2011) 3. Cutting Ice. Wood engraving, c.1936. Edition 25. Signed and titled in pencil. Image size 8 1/4 x 6â€? (20.5 x 15.3 cm). Very good condition. #88744 $5,500.00
Close up detail of Cutting Ice
Wood engraving Wood engraving is using the end grain of the wood, usually box wood which has a tight grain. The origin of wood engraving is lost in history; however, the English artist, Thomas Bewick, is generally credited with devoloping the process we know today. The process has been used by artists since that time; however, in the nineteenth century it was used extensively to illustrate books and newspapers until photograhy became reproducible . In the twentieth century many artists used the process to create images and illustrate books.
Ethel Mars 4. Dressing Room. [Untitled.] White-line color woodcut, c.1916. Printing size very small. Signed lower right E. Mars. Image size 10 1/4 x 9 7/8” (26 x 25.2 cm). Fair to poor condition. Paper disintegration in areas where the green paint was used, resulting in small losses and breaks in that area. This print has been restored, deacidified and backed on Japan paper to stabilize the paper. #86914 $45,000.00 Exhibited at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, July, and August, 1983 and the National Museum of American Art (now Smithsonian American Art Museum) September to January, 1984. Mentioned in Provincetown Printers: A Woodcut Tradition published by the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1983. White-line woodcuts by Ethel Mars are extremely rare, and it is likely that this is a unique impression.
Close up detail of Dressing Room
White-line woodcuts White-line woodcuts are wood block prints; however, all the colors are printed from one block. The blocks appear to be simple, as the majority of the carving is the white-line that seperates one color area from another. The artist would draw the image on the block then cut the lines out. To ink the block they would paint the colors onto the block printing one color at a time. This made printing white-line woodcuts an issue, as edition sizes were always very small. Because each color is painted and printed one at a time, no two impressions are the same, so they are catalogued as “mono prints.”
Emily Trueblood 5. Empire State Afternoon 2. Lincut, 2006. Edition 50. Signed, titled, and dated in pencil. Image size 7 15/16 x 5 7/8â€? (20.2 x 14.8 cm). Very good condition. #40332 $250.00
Norma Bassett Hall 6. October in Santa Fe. Color woodcut, c.1947. Published by The American Color Print Society. Signed and titled in pencil. Image size 10 x 8 1/8â€? (25.4 x 20.5 cm). Very good condition. #77236 $4,800.00
Gustave Baumann 7. Spring Serenade. Color woodcut, 1927. Edition 120. Signed and titled in pencil. Inscribed “No. 45-120” with hand heart chop. Image size 9 1/8 x 11” (23.3 x 27.9 cm). Good condition and color. #84863 $17,500.00
Luigi Rist 8. Sunflowers. Multi-color woodcut, 1940. Edition 200. Signed in ink within image, titled in pencil lower left. Image size 11 3/4 x 15 7/8” (30 x 40.5 cm). Very good condition. #80163 $5,500.00
Intaglio - Line Engraving, Drypoint, Mezzotint, Etching, and Aquatint Intaglio has two divisions: engraving and etching. Engraving is where the marks are carved or cut into the surface by hand and etching is where acid is used to carve the surface. Unlike relief where the surface is printed, intaglios are printed from the marks carved into the surface of the plate. Any metal surface can be used. The most common is copper, as it is easier to carve into than steel and is more stable than other metals. Copper plates are often “steel faced,” a process of bonding steel to the surface of the copper after the artist has worked the image into the surface. This is done so that an edition can be printed without wearing off the image in printing. With some intaglio processes the plates can wear down very quickly during printing without steel facing. To print an intaglio the artist forces ink into the carved areas of the plate and then cleans the surface, so the ink residue on the surface of the plate is removed or diminished. Paper that has been soaked in water then blotted dry is placed on the plate, along with a series of printing blankets to protect the paper, plate, and press. It is then run between rollers applying tons of pressure per inch. This forces the paper into the carved areas on the plate transferring the ink to the paper. The skill in wiping a plate is important to the final effect on the impression. There are many more than just the five intaglio processes listed above. I picked on the best known to describe in this portfolio.
Jean Sonnius 9. Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica Ac Hydrographica Tabula. Copper plate engraving, 1645. Published by J. Sonnius, Amsterdam. An attractive double hemisphere world map. Four small scenes in each corner show the elements represented by an eagle, a salamander, land animals (including a lion and elephant) and a whaling scene. Also embellishing this map are two celestial circles and an upper and lower banner setting out the equivalents of degrees in French and German miles. This map is a close copy of Melchoir Travernier’s world map of 1643. (Shirley #360). The engraver was Nicolas Auroux. A scarce map. Image size 15 x 20 1/2” (38.2 x 52 cm) plus margins. Good condition, save for repaired tears in the outer margins. Also some fly specks in the upper margin. Black & white. Shirley # 365. #20848 $7,800.00
William E. Marshall 10. George Washington. [Untitled).] Chine-colle, copper plate engraving, 1862. Published by Ticknor & Fields, 135 Washington St. Boston. Signed in pencil “Wm. E. Marshall” and proofed by the National Bank Note Company. Based on the painting by Gilbert Stuart that hangs in the Boston Athenaeum. One of the finest mid-nineteenth portraits of the first President. Image size 13 1/2 x 11 1/4” (34.2 x 38.5 cm) plus title and wide margins. Good condition. #19136 $500.00
Close up detail of George Washington
Line engraving – The artist uses a burin to carve into the plate. This process leaves sharp clean lines, cross-hatching to create tones. Engraved plates are very stable and can yield many impressions.
Martin Lewis 11. Break in the Thunderstorm. Drypoint, 1930. Recorded impressions 66. The location depicted is the corner of Thirty-fourth Street and Park Avenue. Martin Lewis’ studio was on Thirty-fourth Street between Lexington and Third Avenues. Kennedy Galleries recorded seventeen sales during the artist’s lifetime at $36 each. Signed in pencil. Inscribed “imp.” Image size 12 5/16 x 9 7/8” (31.3 x 25.1 cm). Very good condition. McCarron #86. #2924 $39,500.00
Close up detail of Break in the Thunderstorm
Drypoint The artist uses a needle or other sharp device to scratch into the surface of the plate. This raises a burr, which is the small piece of metal that is displaced by the scratching of the surface. This raised burr is important as it holds the ink. Drypoint plates are fragile and, therefore, will wear out quickly without steel facing.
VOLUME â€ˆ LXXIV
Frederick Mershimer 12. 42nd Street. Mezzotint, 1997. Edition 65. Signed and titled in pencil. Image size 15 1/2 x 25â€? (39.3 x 63.5 cm). Very good condition. #66999 $1,000.00
Close up detail of 42nd Street.
Mezzotint Mezzotint is a form of intaglio printmaking that creates dramatic, chiaroscuro prints in which whites emerge out of rich, velvety black. Known as the black manner, mezzotint is unique in the intaglio processes because the plate is worked from black to white. With all other forms of intaglio, the artist starts with a clean plate and adds marks to the copper. With mezzotint one starts by texturing the copper plate so it will print as a black field and then slowly smoothing down the texture to bring out the grey passages and white highlights. After the rocking is done, the image is created with a scraper and burnisher. The burnisher, the primary tool for creating the image, handles much like a pencil with one major exception, the harder you push down the lighter the mark becomes. The scraper is the other tool used to create the image, reduces the burrs by shaving them down. By reducing the depth of the textured pitted surface, one controls the amount of ink that will print on the paper.
Henry Morland 13. The Unlucky Boy. Mezzotint, 1772. Published as the Act directs September the 1st 1772 by Robert Sayer, No. 53 in Fleet Street, London. Heny. Moreland [sic] Pinxt. Philip Dawe fecit. A popular image for the time, published by Sayer several times including a smaller mezzotint in 1773. Image size 19 3/8 x 13 15/16” (49.5 x 35.5 cm). Fair condition, a good impression. Tear in left margin 1 1/2” into image, no margins top and right, hairline right. It is not unusual for mezzotints of this period to have narrow to no margins. #69922 $5,500.00
Robert Kipniss 14. The poet’s house. Mezzotint, 2014. Edition 30. Signed in pencil. Inscribed “8/30.” Image size 9 1/4 x 11 1/2” (23.5 x 29.3 cm). Very good condition. #85215 $1,200.00
Childe Hassam 15. Fifth Avenue, Noon. Etching, 1916. Edition unknown. Signed in pencil with cipher. Second state of two. Inscribed “imp.” Image size 9 3/4 x 7 3/8” (24.8 x 18.8 cm). Very good condition. Clayton & Cortissoz #77. #43877 $20,000.00
Close up detail of Fifth Avenue, Noon.
Etching This process uses acid to carve the line. The artist coats the plate with a ground to protect the plate from the acid. The artist can use a hard ground or a soft ground, each yields a different effect. The artist then scratches or marks through the ground exposing the metal plate, it is then put in an acid bath to carve the lines. Depending on how deep the artist wants the lines depends on how long the plate is in the acid.
William J. Behnken 16. Night Passage, Noble & Serene. Aquatint, 2014. Edition 30. Signed, titled, and dated in pencil. Inscribed “12/30.” Image size 11 3/4 x 23 1/4” (29.8 x 60.1 cm). Very good condition. #87794 $900.00
Close up detail of Night Passage, Noble & Serene.
Aquatint – A tonal process of etching. It allows the artist to produce a range of values that print as distinctly flat areas of tone or color without having to use a linear network of cross-hatching as in engraving, etching, or drypoint. The printmaker must apply a ground to the plate with a uniform dusting of tiny particles of acid resistant wax rosin or a finely misted application of aerosol sprayed enamel paint. Either grounding procedure will leave minute spaces between the particles where the acid can “bite” or corrode closely spaced pores into the metal plate. Controlling the depth of “biting” in etching or aquatint is done by “stopping-out” or covering parts of the plate with a liquid varnish of asphaltum at timed stages. Those areas less deeply bitten, holding less ink will print lighter than those of various depths, holding greater amounts of ink which will print a variety of tones. Areas not bitten at all will produce the white of the print from the reserved paper support.
John Wood 17. New York from Long Island. Aquatint and engraving, 1801. Published by J. Wood & W. Rollinson February 14th 1801. Drawn by J. Wood. Engd. Wm. Rollinson. Image size 13 1/2 x 20” (34.5 x 50.7 cm). Good condition, lacks lower publication line. Four small holes in each corner of the margin where it was likely tacked to a wall. Deak Picturing America #240; Stauffer #2723; Stokes Iconography, v. 1, p.74 and pp. 459-60. #86878 $19,500.00 John Wood was born in Scotland in 1775 and arrived in America around the turn of the nineteenth century. He was a teacher, author, map maker, and bookseller. He produced one other noted view that was not noted by Deak, “Philadelphia from Cooper’s-Ferry.” Around 1810 he moved to Virginia and was made the official cartographer of the state.
Close up detail of New York from Long Island.
Lithography Lithography is drawn on stone or specially prepared metal plates. For this description I will stay with the traditional lithographic stones. A lithographic stone is a type of limestone. There are many grades of lithographic stones which are beyond this process description. The basic process is grease repels water and water repels grease. The artist draws on the prepared surface with a lithocrayon. Lithocrayons are graded like drawing pencils 1-10 and are a mixture of grease and wax. Once the drawing is complete the stone is â€œetched.â€? The etching is not to carve the image into the stone but to open the pores of the stone so it holds more water. The acid is weak and does not react with the area where the drawing was done. Once the image is etched and the stone is set for printing, the surface of the stone is dampened with a sponge. It is extremely important to keep the surface wet at all times during printing. The ink has oil in it and the oil will stick to the dry areas of the stone (the drawn areas) and not to the damp areas, water repels grease. It is the simplest process for the artist drawing on the surface, however, extremely complicated to get the final result printed successfully. It is unusual, therefore, for an artist to draw and print his/her own lithograph. There is almost always a master printer involved pulling the impressions.
Thomas Hart Benton 18. The Race. Lithograph, 1942. Edition 250. Published by Associated American Artists. Signed in pencil. Image size 8 7/8 x 13 1/8â€? (22.6 x 33.3 cm). Very good condition. Fath #56. #1 $32,000.00
Benton Murdoch Spruance 19. American Pattern-Barn. Two-color lithograph, 1940. Edition 45. Signed and titled in pencil. Inscribed “Ed. 45.” Image size 7 9/16 x 13 7/8” (19.2 x 35.2 cm). Very good condition. Fine/Looney #84. #2286 $50,000.00
Close up detail of American Pattern-Barn. Note the slight tone shift in the silo, this is a tint stone or the second color stone.
Close up detail of Winter in the Country. : A Cold Morning.
Grant Wood 20. February. Lithograph, 1940. Edition 250. Published by Associated American Artists. Signed in pencil. Image size 8 7/8 x 11 3/4” (225 x 300 mm). Very good condition. Cole #17. #38 $12,000.00
George W. Bellows 21. Preliminaries. Lithograph, 1916. Edition 67. This is the only prize fight lithograph in which women are present. Estate signed “Geo. Bellows J.B.B.” J.B.B. stands for Jean Booth Bellows, the artist’s daughter. Also inscribed “No. 18” most likely in the artist’s hand. Image size 15 3/4 x 19 5/8” (40 x 49.9 cm). Very good condition, very wide margins. Mason #24. #45473 $50,000.00
George H. Durrie 22. Winter in the Country. : A Cold Morning. Two-color lithograph with handcoloring, 1864. New York Published by Currier & Ives. After a painting by G. H. Durrie. New Best Fifty #32. Large folio - image size 18 5/8 x 27” (46.6 x 68.4 cm). Good condition and color, save for minor mat line. Conningham #6736. #6737 $20,500.00
Albert Bierstadt 23. A Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rosalie. Chromolithograph, 1869. Published by Thomas McLean, London. Drawn on stone by Jacob Lutz, printed by Kell Brothers. The print is considered to be quite rare and contains over thirty different stones. Image size 19 1/8 x 32 3/8” (48.6 x 82.3 cm). Good condition and color. Anderson/Ferber Albert Bierstadt Art & Enterprise #79, p. 292. #67774 $25,000.00 Bierstadt’s magnificent view of Mt. Rosalie (now Mt. Evans) in Colorado. This work was started during the artist’s trip to Colorado in 1863. The painting was completed in 1866. It is in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Charles Sheeler 24. Architectural Cadence. [Sheeler: A Retrospective Exhibition]. Serigraph, 1954. Edition 100. Signed and dated in pencil. Inscribed “100/89.” This impression is tiped into Charles Sheeler: A Retrospective Exhibition with a forward by William Carlos Williams, essays by Bartlett H Hayes, Jr., and Fredericks Wright. 47 pp., 28 illustrations (5 color), chrono., bibliog., 4to, wraps. Image size 6 3/16 x 8 11/16” (15.7 x 22 cm). Very good condition. Gordon #6. #36684 $15,000.00
Close up detail of Architectural Cadence.
Serigraphy Screen printing – It is newest of the processes with roots that go back to the beginning of human civilization. At its basic, it is a process of passing ink through a stencil. For modern serigraphy the holder of the stencil is a finely woven screen on which the artist creates the stencil. Printing in color is easy and common. Generally, it is one color per screen. If you want a fifteen-color print, the artist makes fifteen different screens one for each color. The screens must be printed in register and in the correct order. One color applied on top of another gives you a third color. If you reverse the order, the third color is different. The ink surface can be thick on a serigraph depending on the number of colors. The surfaces are fragile, as the ink floats on the surface of the paper.
Ben Shahn 25. Immigrant Family. Serigraph, 1941. Edition unspecified. Signed lower right. Prescott mentions less than three known impressions. Image size 11 1/2 x 18” (29 x 45.5 cm). Very good condition. Prescott # 2. #88239 $12,000.00
Will Barnet 26. Madama Butterfly. Color lithograph and serigraph, 1980. Edition 300. Published by Will Barnet. Signed, titled, and dated in pencil. Printed by Styria Studio, Inc., New York, and Cardinelli. Inscribed “72/300.” Image size 17 1/2 x 33 1/2” (44.4 x 85.1 cm). Very good condition. Barnet #176. #64306 $7,500.00 It is not unusual for artists to combine processes to get the desired effect in their image. In this case Will Barnet used lithography and serigraphy.