The glossary contains important terms with a brief explanation.
- Sheets with the designation E. A. or Epreuve d’Artiste: These prints, which are often falsely referred to as proof prints, are here to name prints which the artist makes for his own use. Usually this is up to 25 pieces. The term “h.c. “(hors de commerce).
- Sample prints: These prints, also known as Epreuve d’Etat, are state prints prior to completion of the printing form, which the artist makes during his work for the control. The unfinished parts of the picture are characteristic. Such objects, of course, are very rare, and the older and more famous the artist, the more coveted.
- Working conditions from the finished plate (etats): The etching is suitable for the artist working on the plate after the first printing; he can cover, etch, work with a hard-pointed needle, or – as Rembrandt had done in almost all his works in etching – insert new parts and omit existing ones.
- It is the exclusive right of the artist to establish the definite number of copies of each of his graphic works in the various techniques, such as copper engraving, etching, lithography, etc.
- In order to be regarded as the original, each print must bear the signature of the artist as well as a numbering showing both the serial number of the individual print and the total number of impressions in that particular edition.
- The above-mentioned principles relate to graphical works, i.e. to prints the artist made on an original plate, the woodcut, the stone, or a corresponding other material. Works which do not fulfill these conditions must be regarded as reproductions.
Original and reproduction
We call originality in art a property: it denotes the authenticity of a work – an artist has created it by hand, from the idea to the finished realization, so it originates (lat. origo = origin, origin) only from him. It is not a copy, but can very well be a replica, i.e. a repetition. Not the unique, not the number, but the authenticity decides. Such questions of originality must be distinguished very clearly from “originality”, which is about the peculiarity in the sense of a novelty.
This is accomplished through depression in the form of lines, dots oder areas, which are formed in the surface of a polished metal plate. These depressions or grooves, in turn, are filled with ink; handmade paper is forced into the depressions by pressing.
If you take a not engraved plate, ink it all over and let it run through a printing press, you get a blind print. If, however, the plate is scraped, pricked or etched, and then carefully inked, the ink only fills the depressions of the plate. This is the visible print then.
This process requires years of experience and great craftsmanship.
However, the techniques required to form the depressions in the surface of the plate are varied. For example:
- copper engraving
- line etching
- vernis mou (soft ground etching)
- stipple engraving
- deep etching