Beau­ti­fully crafted prints are a de­light, says AN­THONY SMITH

EDP Norfolk - - Editor's Letter - ex­tolling the de­lights of the crafted fine art print. A Rem­brandt for a grand? Yes please!

HAVE YOU ever wanted to own a Rem­brandt, a Pi­casso, a Miro or even a Warhol?

Well, for most of us it may seem a dream, yet it is pos­si­ble and rel­a­tively af­ford­able if we look at orig­i­nal fine art prints.

Fine art print-mak­ing is an art, sadly, a much over­looked and/or un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated art form, yet it can be one of the most ac­ces­si­ble and re­ward­ing ar­eas of col­lect­ing.

The prints, of­ten re­ferred to as lim­ited edi­tions in tra­di­tional fine art print­ing, are lim­ited for prac­ti­cal rea­sons; the loss of the sharp­ness or clar­ity of the im­age in the process of mak­ing each print lim­its the num­ber of prints that can be made.

The main meth­ods used in tra­di­tional fine art print-mak­ing are etch­ing, lithog­ra­phy, linocut, wood­cut, en­grav­ing and screen/ silkscreen print­ing. The works pro­duced us­ing these meth­ods are also some­times called orig­i­nal prints to fur­ther con­fuse us all!

The most im­por­tant fac­tor to re­mem­ber when look­ing at any lim­ited edi­tion print is that these works were cre­ated by the artist as art­works in their own right.

For those not fa­mil­iar with the process, the artist would cut or etch into a cop­per plate to make an etch­ing, carve into a wooden panel to make a wood­block, lino to make a linocut and so on. The work pro­duced would then be inked, wiped to re­move ex­cess ink. A sheet of pa­per would be care­fully laid above the worked sur­face and the two then usu­ally hand-pressed to cre­ate the print. The re­sult­ing im­pres­sion of the im­age on the pa­per was the print. The first prints were marked as AP, Artist’s Proof, where the artist checked the qual­ity.

The rub­bing to re­move the ink and to clean the plate after each im­pres­sion slowly but surely wore away the sharp­ness of the cuts un­til fi­nally the im­age pro­duced was sim­ply not up to a stan­dard ac­cept­able to the artist. The edi­tion would there­fore be lim­ited as no more im­ages of con­sis­tent qual­ity could be pro­duced, thus giv­ing rise to the term lim­ited edi­tion.

These edi­tions could be as few as five or as many as 300 or more.

Many very fa­mous artists were print-mak­ers, not least of those Rem­brandt, who was

bet­ter known in his life­time for his etch­ings than his paint­ings.

Yet gen­uine Rem­brandt etch­ings are still avail­able and sur­pris­ingly af­ford­able, start­ing at around £1,000. Con­sid­er­ing that an orig­i­nal paint­ing would be over £1mil­lion, £1,000 seems af­ford­able.

Here in Nor­folk, the Nor­folk Mu­se­ums Ser­vice holds the fourth largest col­lec­tion of Rem­brandt etch­ings in the UK. We are blessed to have this be­quest, made in 1951, from the Turner col­lec­tion.

Andy Warhol is bet­ter known for his silkscreens, Mar­i­lyn,

Mao even Mickey Mouse and Camp­bell’s Soup than prob­a­bly any artist of the last 100 years.

Cha­gall, Miro, Pi­casso all pro­duced lim­ited edi­tion prints that are amaz­ingly af­ford­able, how­ever, ‘af­ters’, or prints done from the orig­i­nal plates after the artist died, are widely sold, of­ten with bo­gus sig­na­tures, so be warned.

One of the joys when look­ing at lim­ited edi­tions is the con­tin­ual voy­age of dis­cov­ery I go on each time I see an etch­ing of su­perb sub­tlety and del­i­cacy pro­duced by an artist I have never heard of. These can be so in­ex­pen­sive, even £15. But what trea­sures.

So do start to in­ves­ti­gate these works of art, even by un­knowns. They are gems in their own right.Š An­thony Smith read art his­tory at the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne and has over 35 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence as a gallery owner and art dealer spe­cial­is­ing in in­ter­na­tional art.

Above: Rem­brandt Har­mensz. van Rijn 1606-1669, the Pan­cake Woman (II/VII) 1635. Etch­ing on pa­per. 10.9 x7

Rob Poin­ten at Man­dell’s

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