What is a print exactly?

The print designates the result of printing an image by means of a matrix created on a metal plate, , a board or a stone. However, some authors use it for the print obtained by other techniques such as screen printing, but this is incorrect.

Lithographic press 19th century
As the sweet size lithography uses a press. Here a lithographic press of the 19th century. Museum of Printing.

The prints of Claude Weisbuch

Throughout his career, Claude Weisbuch produced a very large number of prints. Indeed, even if the name  engraving, for a work from an engraved plate and lithography for a work from a lithographic stone, are correct, they are prints.

Weisbuch in print reception

The creation of a print most often involves 2 people, the artist who creates the matrix, and the professional who takes care of the printing. These professionals are called “Taille-doucier” for intaglio works and “Lithographer” for lithographs. Thus Claude Weisbuch worked with the “Taille-doucier” Patrick Degouy for nearly 40 years.

Inscriptions on a print

Whether it is an engraving or a lithograph, the print has several mentions, making it possible to attest to its authenticity. All of these mentions bear the name of “letter”. Thus since the end of the 19ᵉ century, they must be materialized by handwritten inscriptions in pencil, in the lower margin of the work, at the edge of the basin.

Generally we find:

  • On the right, the artist’s signature and possibly the printing date.
  • On the left, a fraction which indicates the number of the edition on the total number of copies. This fraction is called the “justification of the edition”. This can be in Arabic numerals (9/20), for the classic edition, or in Roman numerals (IX/XX), for the proofs outside the edition.
  • In the center, between the fraction and the signature is the location of the title of the work

Moreover, in addition to the planned print runs, it is customary to reserve copies for the artist, printers, publisher or friends.

These prints are marked “E.A.” (artist’s proof) or “H. C.” (hors commerce) and may be accompanied by a specific numbering, for example “EA 4/10”.

The test prints are marked EE (state proof) in pencil, at the bottom left of the cuvette. Specificities such as “1st state”, “2nd state” are mentioned in the case of particular tests. Finally, each series also contains a print, with the mention BAT (good to print), which is the first copy validated by the artist when it comes out of the press. Before being numbered and signed by the artist, each copy is compared to the proof.

Artist proof numbering
We are here in the presence of an artist’s proof whose overall print run is 20 pieces. This is number 2.

Original print or not?

The original print is a work obtained by printing a matrix made by the artist himself, or under his direct control. It is distinguished from other types of creations by the direct intervention of the artist. So that any realization not being due to his hands, cannot take advantage of the name of “original print”.

On this subject, to attest to this, it must, at the very least, be signed. The original print is the one with the greatest value. It is therefore the inscriptions that appear there that will make it possible to decide.

Draw evaluation

The value of a print depends on its condition, the number of copies printed, the rating of the artist, and his involvement in the printing. Therefore, it is difficult for a simple amateur to attempt to make his own assessment. On the other hand, he is the only one who can estimate his “favourite” price, which should perhaps represent the only important criterion.

Ssynoptic of printmaking methods

summary table of printmaking methods

Download synoptic of printmaking methods, click HERE

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