and Printmaking Terms - The Bare Basics
terminology is a vast subject upon which books are written. Here, however, we
want to provide you with the bare basics for getting started, whether in printmaking
or collecting. Printmakers, print dealers, and print collectors use six terms
that are necessary for the comprehension of prints: Edition, Numbering, Artist's
Proofs, Restrike, States, and Catalogue Raisonné.
The number of images printed from the plate, stone, block, or the like is
called an edition. These identical images are pulled either by the artist or,
under the artists supervision, by the printer. The body of the edition is numbered
(for example, 1/100 through 10/100) directly on the print, usually in pencil.
Additional proofs, such as artist's proofs, are also part of the edition.
Numbering indicates the size of the edition and the number of each particular
print. Therefore, 25/75 means that the print is the 25th impression from an edition
of 75. Beware of numbering which comes in other forms, such as Roman numerals,
as this would tend to indicate a restrike.
Artist's proofs are those impressions from an edition that
are specifically intended for the artist's own use. These impressions are in addition
to the numbered edition and are so noted in pencil as artist proof or A/P. The
legitimate number of artist's proofs for a given edition us usually around 10%
of the total.
A subsequent printing from an original plate, stone, or block is called a
restrike. Restrikes are usually printed posthumously or without the artist's authorization.
Once the artist has drawn an image, he or she may pull several prints. If
the artist subsequently changes the image, the first prints are called first state,
and the subsequent prints with the change, second state. The artist can continue
to make changes, with the number of states going as high as ten or more. These
state proofs are, for demanding collectors, objects of desire.
A scholarly reference text in which each print known to
have been executed by a particular artist is completely documented and described.
The information given may include title, alternate titles, date, medium, size
of the edition, image size, paper used, and other pertinent facts. The term is
also used for similar catalogs of paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolors,
or other works by a single artist or workshop.
catalogue raisonné is the principal resource in the fight against big-time
print fraud. All of the most famous, most expensive printmakers have their catalogue
raisonné, and any print which does not figure there is necessarily of dubious