An alphabetical list of art terms and their definition.


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19th & 20th Century Masters

  • Artists who lived and produced during the 19th and 20th Century.


  • In ETCHING, the container or tray of mordant in which the object to be etched is immersed.  In etching metal plates for printing, the tray containing the mordant must be of an acid-resistant material, such as porcelain or glass.


  • Properly acrylic vinyl polymer emulsion paint  is an entirely new synthetic paint which allows a combination of the traditional oil and watercolor techniques. It is a plastic emulsion which is soluble in water, so that very thin, transparent, washes can be applied, as in classical watercolor. At the same time, it is possible to apply a very thick impasto and there is also a special polymer medium that has a function similar to that of oil in oil painting. The synthetic substances are said to be permanent and to adhere to almost any surface, but it is perhaps early to judge this.


  • Any group of synthetic resins made by polymerization of acrylic esters.  Polymethyl methacrylic in solid form, best known by the trade names Plexiglas and Lucite, is a permanent, non-yellowing, glasslike plastic that is frequently used in modern sculpture and constructions.  It may be cast, extruded, machined, and welded or shaped by heating.


  • Aquatint is a tone process used to give the impression of color washes. In this process the plate is partially protected with a porous material, such as a cheesecloth bag.  Resin is dusted through the bag onto the plate.  The plate is then heated, and the particles adhere to the surface.  The image is then immersed into an acid bath , and the acid bites tiny rings around each resin grain.  These rings hold enough ink to print a kind of wash area.  The printer uses a protective varnish on the areas he wants to leave light.  The plate then receives another acid bath.  Gradually, the tones are achieved by repetitive bitings and varnishings of the plate.  Aquatint is usually employed in combination with line etching.
  • Like mezzotint, aquatint is a tone process rather than a line method, but it is admirably adapted to the rendering of transparent effects, such as watercolor gives. It is basically a form of etching, but using a porous ground that the acid can penetrate to form a network of fine lines. Any pure whites are stopped out in the usual way before biting begins, then the palest tints are bitten and stopped out, and so on as in etching. Variations of texture can be obtained by pressing a piece of sandpaper on the grounded plate, mixing sugar with the ground, or attacking the plate with sulfur ('sulphurtint').


  • A type of high quality heavy paper often used in printmaking and drawing



  • A style of design and decoration popular in America and Europe in the 1920's and 1930's.  While essentially an offshoot of ART NOUVEAU, unlike its predecessor, the characteristic patterns or designs of art deco are geometric, not naturalistic, in style, reflecting the rise of industry and mass production in the early 20th century.


  • A `new art´ which spread across Europe and America the 1890s. It. was mainly a style of architecture and interior decoration (Horta, van de Velde) and flourished in Belgium and Britain especially, using flat patterns of writhing vegetable forms based on a naturalistic conception of plants rather than a formalized type of decoration. Cast iron lilies and copper tendrils are still with us, as is furniture with heart shaped holes in it. The posters of Mucha popularized the style commercially in Germany and Austria. The movement was called `Jugendstil´, after a magazine `Jugend´ (youth), which was first published in 1896; in Italy, where it had a great vogue particularly in ironwork and in decoration- especially in Milan, Turin, Genoa, Mantua- it is known as "Stile Liberty", after the famous London store.  


  • The atelier is a common feature of the Continental art world. It is a studio, open freely but not free, which provides a nude model in fixed sessions, but no tuition or control. The most famous was opened c.1825-30 in Paris by a model called Suisse, and was used by Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, and other Impressionists. The Atelier Julian, opened in Paris in 1860, was not an atelier libre since it provided a teacher, though it was more liberal than the official Ecole des BeauxArts, for which it often served as forcingground or alternative. Most of the NABIS worked at the Julian, as did Matisse, Derain, and Uger. Sometimes these ateliers libres are called Academies.


  • A painting or other work of art is said to be autograph when it is thought to be entirely from the hand of the artist to whom it is attributed. In the case of frescoes or other very large undertakings it can hardly be expected that the artist should execute every part with his own hand, but the expression 'Studio of in connection with smaller works indicates a desire not to suggest that the work is a copy. In Some cases, especially that of Rubens, one often finds that the original sketch is autograph and the execution of the finished, large, canvas was entrusted to assistants overseen by the master, who usually added the final touches.



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  • The style that succeeded mannerism and lasted, though with profound modifications, until well into the 18th century. The style is seen at its purest in the so called 'High Baroque', which is virtually confined to Italy (to Rome even) and to the period c.1630, that is, roughly, the maturity of its greatest exponent, Bernini The High Baroque, at its best and fullest, is a union of the arts of architecture, painting, and sculpture, acting in concert on the emotions of the spectator; inviting him, for example, to participate in the agonies and ecstasies of the Saints. Its blend of illusionism, light and color, and movement is calculated to overwhelm the spectator by a direct emotional appeal. Owing to its essential links with Counter Reformation Catholicism, pagan antiquity, and the Mediterranean generally, many Northerners are  or were until recently  queasy about it. At the beginning of the 17th century there was an upsurge of spiritual confidence and a new direction in religious art which combined with a new approach to classical art to create a new style. The confused and flaccid forms of late Mannerism gave place to the simple subject matter, the unidealized naturalism, the uncomplicated iconography and strong chiaroscuro of Caravaggio; the clarity of composition, the revival of the balance and harmony of Raphael and the tenderness of handling of Correggio, the nobility of form, the directness of meaning and imagery of Annibale Carracci Domenichino, Guido Reni, and Guercino. Of the painters of the High Baroque, Lanfranco, Pietro da Cortona, Baciccio and, at the end of the century, Padre Pozzo, specialized in the florid and exuberant illusionism which is one of the characteristics of the style, while Bernini pushed to their furthest limits the use of painterly effects in sculpture, the dissolved contour, the rendering of movement by means of flickering light, the expression of the most profound and passionately felt religious emotion. Some Roman artists, such as Sacchi, Maratta, and Algardi were always more restrained. Outside Italy, astute politicians like Colbert Louis XIV's great Minister, were quick to see that the religious style could easily be made to subserve autocratic regimes, by the glorification of the monarch, but in this process a good deal of pompous inflation was superimposed, on  the original religious fervour; and the French exponents of the Baroque replaced its emotional qualities with a conscious and frigid use of the antique. Even Rubens, the greatest Northern Baroque artist, sometimes allowed himself to be used in this way. The style lasted longest in Catholic Germany and Austria, and had the least influence in Protestant countries Britain, Scandinavia, Holland, and although there are aspects of Rembrandt which place him among the greatest of artists of the Baroque, and there is certainly such a thing as English Baroque.  In the North it is still possible to use the term as one of simple abuse (i.e.nonGothic, unRuskinian), but this is now confined to the very old or the very unsophisticated.  A more dangerous misuse is as a synonym for 'Seventeenth Century'.  Late Baroque merges most imperceptibly into the Rococo and the Age of Reason finally rejected both and produced Neoclassicism.


  • The corrosive effect a mordant has on the metal plate when the plate is placed in a bath of acid.  The composition, concentration, and temperature of the mordant and its skillful application to the plate determine the control of the process (that is, depth, width, and evenness of the etched lines) and the durability of the plate (that is, its ability to stand up under the wear of printing a reasonably large edition).  The extent of biting is controlled not only by the nature of the mordant but also by the length of time the plate is left in the acid bath.  After the plate has been left in the mordant a while , it may be removed, and the lines that are faintest may be stopped out before the plate is replaced in the bath.  The procedure is repeated, selectively producing successively deeper lines until the plate is etched to the artist's satisfaction.


  • An original print made from a single carved wooden block, that is, a WOODCUT or a WOOD ENGRAVING. See ENGRAVING


  • In sculpture, a portrait that includes the head, neck, and part of the shoulders and breast, usually mounted on a base or column; in painting, a portrait that shows the same portion of the figure, including the upper arms.


  • Was used as a material for sculpture in ancient Greece, and Rome as well as in Africa and China, but the art of casting seems to have become almost lost in the Middle Ages, when effigies were made by hammering thin plates of bronze on to a wooden core. Modern bronzes are, made either in sand molds, or by the cire perdue method, both these techniques being very ancient. Sand casting is done by simply making a mold of special sand from the original plaster model, inserting a core, and pouring in the molten bronze. Cire perdue (Fr. lost wax) is economical of bronze because it employs a model which is a few millimeters smaller in all directions than the enclosing mould, the space between being filled with wax and vent pipes inserted at top and bottom. The outer side of the wax is exactly what the desired bronze should look like; and molten bronze is poured through the top vent, taking the place of the wax that has previously been melted out. The amount of wax run out serves as a guide to the quantity of bronze needed. Any number of such casts can be taken. In Renaissance times it was usual to work on the casts with files and chasers, polishing and engraving the surface, but it is now the fashion to prefer a rough surface, showing the thumbmarks of the original clay model. PATINA is, the lovely greenish tint and matte surface which age and chemical reaction have imparted to Greek bronzes, but which is now artificially created by chemical means. 



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  • A heavy woven fabric used as a support for oil or acrylic painting. 


  • In sculpture, the act of cutting or incising wood, stone, or other material into the desired form. A carved work may be called a carving, but the word SCULPTURE is usually preferred for work of serious artistic intent.


  • To reproduce an object, such as a piece of sculpture, by means of a mold; also a copy so produced.  The original piece is usually of a less durable material than the cast.


  • See OEUVRE


  • The art of making objects of clay and firing them in a kiln.


  • A black crayon made of charred twigs of wood, usually willow, or pieces of a vine.  It is available in various degrees of hardness and thickness.  Charcoal is a very old and universally used drawing material. When used for itself in drawing, it is usually applied on special papers, but it is also used for preliminary drawings.

CHIAROSCURO (Ital. Light-dark)

  • As generally used, chiaroscuro (or the French clair-obscur) means the balance of light and shadow in a picture, and the skill shown by the painter in the management of shadows.   A chiaroscuro woodcut is a woodcut, linocut, or other similar engraving which is printed from several blocks, in exactly the same way as a color print, in imitation of a drawing in several shades of monochrome wash, each shade being cut on a separate block.  Intermediate tones may be obtained by careful overprinting of two or more blocks.

COLLAGE (from Fr. coller to stick)

  • A picture built up wholly or partly from pieces of paper, cloth, or other material stuck on to the canvas or other ground. The device was much used by the early CUBISTS, who would stick pieces of newspaper on to pictures painted in an otherwise normal way, and by the Dadaists. In his last years Matisse used pieces of colored paper as a complete substitute for painting.


  • The art of combining the elements of a picture or other work of art into a satisfactory visual whole: in art the whole is very much more than the sum of the parts. A picture is well composed if its constituents whether figures or apples or just shapes  form a harmony which pleases the eye when regarded as two-dimensional shapes on a flat ground. This is the sole aim of most abstract painting but in more traditional forms the task is made much more difficult by the need to project the forms in an ordered sequence into an imaginary depth or picture space without losing their effectiveness as a pattern. The word is often also used loosely to mean a work of art, a group, etc.


  • In ordinary English usage a mixture of dry, powdered color with a wax binder, giving an effect like PASTEL, but greasier and much less easily rubbed.  It is familiar from the drawings of small children.  (ii) In French, crayon is what in English is lead pencil.


  • The parent of all abstract art forms although itself avowedly a realist movement.  It grew out of the efforts of Picasso and Braque to replace the purely visual effects of Impressionist preoccupation with the surface of objects with a more intellectual conception of form and color.  Their starting point was Cezanne, who had striven towards the same ends, but Cubism carried much farther the ideas of the unity of the two dimensional picture surface, and the analysis of forms and their interrelation, since they deliberately gave up the representation of things, as they appear in order to give account of the whole structure of any given object and its position in space. This meant, in practice, combining several views of the object all more or less superimposed, expressing the idea of the object rather than one view of it. The first exhibition of such pictures was in 1907 in Paris.  The name Cubism was derisive, for it excited as much opposition as Impressionism itself, or the then recent fauvism: it was much influenced Negro art, by Picasso's interest in Iberian sculpture, and by reaction in the pattern-making of Fauvism. Gris, Leger, Delauny, and Derain were among the early adherents and the new-aesthetic was soon reached by two practicing Cubist painters, Gleizes and Metzinger, whose 'Du Cubisme', was published in 1912 and later translated into English while the poet Apollinaire followed in 1913 with 'Les Peintres Cubistes'. The first phase, under the influence of Cezanne, lasted from 1906 to 1909; the second, sometimes called High or Analytical Cubism, lasted from 1909 to 1912 and excluded interest in color or handling while concentrating on the breaking down of forms; finally, Late or Synthetic Cubism (1912-14) allowed a reemergence of tactile qualities, color, and handling.





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  • Decoration of a surface by covering it completely with cut-out paper figures or designs; also, an object so decorated.


  • A picture consisting of two parts


  • The original intention of the project was to produce a superb septecentennial edition of The Divine Comedy to be published by La Libreria dello Stato, Roma.  To this end a prototype of four plates was printed in 1954.  The reception to the great Dali watercolors met with a less than enthusiastic reception.  This was not because the illustrations were lacking in strength or artistic merit, but because they were the work of a Spanish painter!  The jealous Italians did not exactly relish the idea of their  State Press publishing their most famous poet's works with illustrations by a Spanish artist.  So politics intervened and the lavish Italian edition was dropped. 


  • A dry point is printed from a metal plate into which an image has been scratched with a sharp tool.  The sunken lines are produced directly by diamond-hard tools pulled across the plate rather than having the acid bite the image into the plate.  The depth of the line is controlled by the artist's muscle and experience.  The method of cutting produces a burr.  This gives the dry point line a characteristically soft, velvety appearance absent in the clean edged lines of an engraving or etching.
  • This is the simplest technique of INTAGLIO, since it consists of drawing on the metal plate with a 'pencil' made of hard steel, or steel tipped with diamond, ruby, or carborundurn. The great, quality of drypoint lies in the burr, which is the shaving of metal turned up at the side of the furrow. When burr occurs in line engraving it is scraped off, but it is left in a drypoint because it catches, the ink and prints with a richness which adds to the directness of the artist's work. Unfortunately, it is soon crushed by the pressure of printing, so that less than fifty good impressions can be taken. Dry point is often used to reinforce etching or even engraving; Rembrandt  in particular, often combined with etching.



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  • Identifies the number of items (serigraphs, sculptures, etc) that were created during the re-production process.  See also LIMITED EDITION .


  • The technique of creating raised figures or designs in RELIEF on a surface.


  • For our purposes, an emerging artist is defined as an artist who has exhibited and proven himself as an artist of note, but does not yet qualify as an ESTABLISHED ARTIST.


  • An engraving is made by incising a design into a copperplate with a tool called a graver or a burin.  As with dry point, metal shavings are displaced, but in engraving the burr is removed with a sharp blade before printing.  The result is a much cleaner image than that of the dry point or etching.
  • A generic title often used to cover all the methods of multiplying print, although strictly the word should apply only to the second of the processes described below. The first distinction to be drawn is between Reproductive and Original Engravings. A Reproductive Engraving being a means of divagating an idea expressed in a painting, drawing, statue, or other medium, invented, by an artist other than the engraver. An Original Engraving is an independent work of art invented by the engraver himself. The three main types of engraving may be classified as (1) RELIEF or cameo, (2) INTAGLIO, and (3) Surface or planar. Each of these types corresponds to one or more of the main techniques, and each type has a special method of printing


  • A group of synthetic thermosetting resins, developed during the late 1940's and early 1950's, widely used in industrial molded products and in baking enamels, and popular with sculptors.  The epoxies require a catalyst or hardening agent that is added at the time of use.  They are well adapted to molding because the accuracy of reproduction.  All sorts of fillers- chopped fiberglass, fiberglass mats or fabrics- and pigments are used with resins.


  • For our purposes, an established artist is defined as an artist who has been in the art world for quite some time, has earned national and international acclaim, and has works of art in major museums, galleries, and/or private and corporate collections.


  • The artist covers the plate with an acid resistant ground and then draws on the plate with special sharp tools to remove the ground where the design is to be.  The plate is then immersed in an acid bath which bites into the plate where the protective covering has been removed.  By leaving different areas exposed to the acid for varying lengths of time , the quality of the line bitten into the plate can be controlled.  The ground is then removed and the image the artist's hand created is now etched into the metal.  The finished plate is then printed as described above in intaglio printing.
  • Referring to the INTAGLIO technique, the metal plate is covered with a resinous ground, impervious to acid, and then the etcher draws on the ground with a needle exposing the copper wherever he wants a line to print. The plate is put in an acid bath, which eats away the exposed parts, but subtlety is given by taking the plate out of the acid as soon as the faintest lines are bitten. These faint lines are then 'stopped-out' with varnish and the plate rebitten until the medium-dark lines are stopped-out in their turn, and so on. The first dated etching is of 1513 (by Urs Graf), but the great period came with the 17th century, culminating in Rembrandt, and the process has been popular ever since. Soft ground Etching looks like a pencil or chalk drawing because the ground is mixed with tallow, and has a sheet of thin paper laid on it, on to which the etcher draws directly with a pencil; part of the ground sticks to the paper giving a grainy effect when the plate is bitten.
  • See also ENGRAVING



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  • The nature of these are really self-evident, but there exist gray areas which do not fall quite into the same category as the deliberate and intentional fraud. Instances are the disputed attribution. An amateur painter called George Constable introduced himself to John Constable and became a friend of his. Pictures by George Constable have become confused into the true Constable oeuvre, not entirely innocently, and in fact George Constable himself has been accused of assisting the confusion. Often genuine replicas- for instance, those made by John Dunthorne, whom Constable employed as a copyist and assistant  have been known to travel under the name of the greater man, and have been distinguished from his works partly on the evidence of quality, and partly by pedigree or PROVENANCE, This type of confusion is even easier to create where the major artist maintained a large and prolific studio. Rubens is one example, where innumerable sketches, projects, versions were produced by very skilled and experienced assistants, and the tendency is to sail them all under the master's colors.  Another example is Rembrandt, who had many pupils, who, at one time or another, endeavored to imitate their teacher's handling, color, and style; and whose works must now be distinguished from the true products of Rembrandt's own hand. To the generality of collectors, and even more so to dealers, the temptation to see the geese as swans is almost irresistible, and as much for motives of prestige as for merely pecuniary ones. There also exists a whole category of repainted, over restored pictures, where no satisfactory determination of authorship can really be made, and which depend upon the eye of faith to discern their genuineness. On the whole, the art historian distinguishes these without difficulty; the real problems occur when 'certificates of authenticity' are being sought by a hopeful, and often generous, owner, though nowadays the provision of these doubtful passports is only solicited by the unsophisticated and supplied by the cynical. They are, in fact, totally worthless. Some forgeries are difficult to distinguish  for instance, the drawing copied by the counterproof method, where only the recognition of the direction of the stroke which converts a righthanded artist into a lefthanded one, may sometimes betray the spurious nature of an otherwise perfect-seeming example; or the false cast, of a bust, or a medal, or a figurine, detectable only by careful analysis with scales and calipers, and with a genuine example for comparison. Some intentional fakes are betrayed by the inclusion of colors  Prussian blue, Viridian, the Cadmium reds and yellows  which were invented long after the putative date of the picture; some by their being painted on supports which were not available at the date at which they appear to have been made  mahogany panels, for instance, before the mid18th century; or by their having a craquelure which gives rise to suspicion. But these are cases of detective work done by museum laboratories for the specific purpose of nailing a forgery which has usually suggested itself as spurious because of some inexplicable dissonance between genuine, irreproachable examples and an irrational or irreconcilable divergence. Most forgeries 'fall out' after about fifty years or so; in other words, they conform to the popular image of the artist held at the time the fake was made  an instance of this is the Botticelli forgery made during the Burne-Jones period. Later generations, who see the artist quite differently, distinguish between the true appearance of his work and the ideas held about him by an earlier generation of admirers and smugly wonder how their fathers could have been so easily deceived.


  • Imagery, in painting, drawing, and sculpture, that represents the human form by means of a figure, symbol, or likeness.


  • In the pictorial and sculptural arts, a representation of the human body.


  • Art created primarily as an aesthetic expression, to be contemplated or enjoyed for its own sake.  Examples of fine art include painting, drawing, sculpture, print making, and architecture.


  • The surface appearance of a work of art, such as a painting or sculpture, or another such object.





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  • Opaque watercolor paint (known to many people as poster paint).  With gouache effects very similar to those obtainable in oil painting may be got with less trouble, so that a it is a useful means of making studies for a large picture in oils; although it has the effect of drying much lighter in tone than it seems when wet.  The medium lacks the peculiar charm of pure watercolor, but has always been popular.


  • A generic term for any or all INTAGLIO printing processes



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  • A picture especially executed to accompany a printed text, such as a book or an advertisement, in order to reinforce the meaning or enhance the effect of the text.  A work of originally created for another purpose may also be used as an illustration if it is appropriate to the content of a text.


  • A word, Italian by origin, used to describe the thickness of the paint applied to a canvas or panel.  When paint is so heavily applied that it stands up in lumps with the tracks of the brush clearly evident it is said to be heavily impasted.


  • A print from an ENGRAVING.  A poor impression is usually caused by wear of the plate or block, or by under inking.


  • The derisive name given to the most important artistic phenomenon of the 19th century and the first of the Modern Movements.  The name was derived from a picture by Monet, Impression, Sunrise (1872: Paris) which represents the play of light on water, with the spectator looking straight into the sun.  The occasion of the derision was the first Impressionist Exhibition, held in 1874, when Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Pissaro, Cezanne, Degas, Guillaumin, Boudin, Berthe Morisot, and others held an independent exhibition.  In fact, the true aim of Impressionism was to achieve ever-greater naturalism, by exact analysis of tone and color by trying to render the play of light on the surface of objects.  The flickering touch, with the paint applied in small, brightlycolored dabs, and the lack of firm outline, combined with the brightness of the color, even in the shadows, and the generally high key undoubtedly alienated the public. In the course of time these technical devices became petrified into a quasi-scientific method of applying paint (NEO IMPRESSIONISM) which was supposed to give the maximum of truth  optical truth  to Nature: it also led naturally to POST IMPRESSIONISM; that is, to a purely artistic and anti-naturalistic movement. The great decade of Impressionism was 187080, but most of the major figures, such as Monet, Pissaro, and Sisley, continued to produce masterpieces in a more or less Impressionist style for many more years. Degas, Renoir, and Cezanne were only dubiously Impressionists even in the 70s (many of the original group felt that Cezanne was more than they could swallow) and they very soon moved away from it. Cezanne said that he wanted to make of Impressionism something solid and durable, like the art of the Museums, thus clearly defining the main weakness of the movement, its lack of intellectual rigor. Nevertheless, most painting of the last 100 years has been profoundly affected by it, and even the RA and the Salon would nowadays be lost without it, There is a special Musde de l'Impressionnisme in Paris and there is now also an important collection in the Mus. Marmottan, Passy, Paris; but the very nature of the movement, with its emphasis on painting landscapes out of doors and catching the fleeting impression, meant an enormous output of pictures so that they are not difficult to find. The eight Impressionist Exhibitions were held in 1874, 1876, 1877, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, and 1886.


  • The process of intaglio, incised or copperplate printing uses a principle opposite of that of relief printing.  The image to be printed is sunk into the printing surface and filled with a greasy printer's ink.  Then the surface is carefully wiped clean so that the ink remains only in the incised design.  The great pressure required to pick up the intaglio printing leaves a visible plate mark within the margin of the uncompressed paper.
  • The intaglio techniques are all forms of engraving on metal, usually copper, and they are distinguished from the other techniques by the method of printing. When the plate has been engraved by one or more of the processes to be described  and several processes are often used in combination  the plate is dabbed all over with a thin kind of printing ink, which is then rubbed off again with muslin or the palm of the hand, leaving the ink in the engraved furrows. A piece of paper is then damped and laid on the plate and both are rolled through a heavy press not unlike a mangle. The damp paper is forced into the engraved lines and so picks up the ink in them: when dry the engraved lines stand up in relief. This explains the great difference between a copperengraving, or any other intaglio print, and a woodengraving which has been out in a very similar way  the ink lies on the surface of a woodengraved block instead of forced into the lines cut (intagliate) into the metal plate. A wood-engraving cannot be printed in the intaglio manner as it would break under the pressure. The main intaglio processes are: (a) LINE (or copper) ENGRAVING, (b) DRYPOINT, (c) ETCHING, including Soft-ground etching, (d) STIPPLE and crayon engraving, (e) MEZZOTINT, and (f) AQUATINT and the related processes.
  • Consists of cutting forms out of a surface so as to form a kind of relief in reverse.  The commonest example is an engraved sealring, hence the opposite term is often cameo.  For Intaglio processes, see ENGRAVING.


  • Name commonly used in the U.S. for black liquid drawing ink.



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  • Any of several soft, tissue-thin artists' papers made in the Far East from the pith of fibers from various trees.



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  • A general term for all artistic constructions that includer moving elements, whether actuated by motor, by hand crank, or by natural forces, as in MOBILES




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  • In figure sculpture, of the same size as the actual model.


  • A set number of replicas of a work of art, of which the plate, mold, or die is destroyed or mutilated after the desired number of copies has been made.  The practice of limiting editions and numbering proofs originated with ETCHING and DRYPOINT, in which the quality of the proofs declines as the copper plate begins to show evidence of wear.  By thus limiting an edition to first-rate examples of an artist's work, the artist protects both his or her artistic integrity and the value of the work to the collector.  There is no technical reason for limiting or numbering editions of works of art that are made by processes capable of turning out an indefinite number of uniformly good copies, such as lithography, serigraphy, and casting molds that employ durable molds.  Editions are frequently limited, however, for financial reasons; by ensuring the relative rarity of the artist's work, he or she increases its value.  See also ORIGINAL, RE-STRIKE


  • A drawing in which forms are depicted exclusively by lines.


  • Referring to the INTAGLIO technique, the sharp graver is pushed into the copper, exactly like a plough into the earth, throwing up small shavings and leaving a line which has a V-section. This is the earliest of the intaglio techniques, as the earliest dated print is of 1446, but it is also the one demanding the discipline and precision of hand since the sharp tool has to be pushed ahead of the hand  and polished copper is very slippery. This medium was later used mainly for reproducing pictures and other works of art. Seventeenth Century engravers (especially French) brought the art to the pitch of perfection as a didactic medium


  • Same as the woodcut in principle but linoleum rather than wood is used.  Picasso made major innovations in the use of this medium to produce fine prints.  See also ENGRAVING.


  • Lithographs are made by using a greasy crayon , pencil, or lithographic ink, called tusche, to draw an image on a metal plate or a stone.  The surface is then dampened  with water, which only stays on the blank areas, since the grease repels water.  Greasy printing ink is then rolled on the surface and, again, this only adheres to the image- not to the dampened area.  Paper and plate are run through a press together where the ink is transferred to the paper.  Anything may be used to draw the image on the plate as long as it is greasy.  Different drawing mediums will produce different texture samples of his linoleum cut prints are greatly sought after today.    See also ENGRAVING or SURFACE PRINTING.





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  • 1. An artist of high achievement, especially one of the leaders of a school or period.  2. Originally, the status or standing of one who was an artist or craftsman qualified to execute commissions alone or with a hired journeyman.


  • One of an artist's works that represents his or her top level of accomplishment; any work of art that ranks among the best of its kind. A frequently encountered French equivalent is chef d'oeuvre.


  • The specific tool and material used by an artist, for example, brush and oil paint. Plural media.


  • This was the great reproductive process of the 18th century (though invented in the 17th century), especially famous and successful in England, where the portraits of Reynolds and Gainsborough were normally reproduced by it. The plate is first covered with a mesh of small burred dots, made by a toothed chisel like 'rocker'. In this state the plate would print as a solid, rich black. The halftones and lights are obtained by scraping off the burr with a scraper, or polishing the plate smooth again with a burnisher so that the ink may be wiped off the highest lights. The technique is rarely practiced now, as photographic methods have superseded it for reproduction.


  • The term generally applied to the use of two or more media in a single work of art.


  • In sculpture, a delicately balanced arrangement of thin rods or stiff wires and objects suspended from them.  The entire construction hangs from a thin filament and is moved by slight air currents.  The mobile was named by its inventor, the American sculptor Alexander Calder. (1898-19761).


  • A single print, not strictly an engraving at all, made by painting with oil paint or painter's ink, on an untouched copper plate, and printing on paper in a normal way.  The only reason for doing this instead of painting direct on the paper is the quality texture given by the pressure of printing.


  • A work of art produced by any of the printing processes, usually in large numbers and replaceable at any time, whose value lies in its potential for reaching a vast audience.




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  • The French term for a STILL LIFE painting or drawing.


  • The name given to a late 19th century movement in French art, best characterized by the paintings of Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, and Camille Pissaro, which was, in effect, a synthesis of IMPRESSIONISM, with its emphasis on light and color, and pointilism, the methodical, nearly scientific application of dots of paint to create a very specific , highly formalized effect.



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  • A French term used to designate a work of art that has intrinsic material worth over and above its aesthetic qualities.  It is applied to all sorts of decorative and precious articles but ordinarily denotes relatively small objects privately owned rather than displayed in museums.

OEUVRE (Fr. Work)

  • The oeuvre of an artist is the total of his output, and an oeuvre catalogue is, therefore, an attempt to record every single work of art by a given artist.  A catalogue raisonne is slightly different, in that it attempts a complete description of works, with details of PROVENANCE, autography quality, condition and similar effects.


  • In printing, the transfer of the inked impression on a block, plate, or stone to another surface from which the actual proofs are pulled.


  • Popular epithet for any of the great masters of the Renaissance period, especially those of Italy, Holland, and Belgium; also any of their works.


  • An artist's independent creation.
  • A work of art considered as a prototype, as that from which copies are made.
  • Any print made by a recognized graphic arts process in which the artist has created the master image on the plate, block, stone, screen, or transfer paper and has printed it himself or herself.  In the case of a technically involved process such as lithography, a professional printer may assist the artist in pulling the proofs.  The term original print, which has been adopted by the Print Council of America, distinguishes such proofs from mechanical or photographic reproductions that are executed neither by the artist nor under the artist's supervision.  Since the early 20th century, original prints have generally been signed  in the lower right-hand margin of the print, close to the bottom of the impression.  In limited editions, the artist also records in the margin the size of the edition and the number of the PROOF.
  • In accordance with the standards of the originality in the graphic arts adopted by the Print Council, the artist is expected to identify clearly a second edition, both by altering it in some way (as by a change in color) and by marking it "2nd Ed".  I f the artist makes any significant change in the printing surface while pulling an edition, proofs of the reworked surface should be marked "2nd st." (second state).  When the artist decides that he or she will make no additional prints from a plate, stone, or stencil, the Council suggests that the artist either obliterates the image or cancels the image.  A cancellation is any form of alteration or defacement that insures that further proofs cannot be confused with those of the limited edition.  


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  • The name given to a sketch or drawing executed with a steelnibbed pen dipped in ink.




  • Based on the acceptance and use of artifacts, mass advertising and press media, and products of modern life (i.e. Pop Culture) as valid forms in themselves, and, subjected to various transformations which increase their impact without destroying their character, as material for further artistic creation. Photographs, posters, advertisements strip cartoons, packaging, objects of everyday life such as furniture, machinery, cars, washbasins, quilts, stuffed animals; the transmogrification in three dimensions by means of colored plastics of sausages, tomatoes, sandwiches, typewriters; the representation in bronze either left as itself, or painted realistically of such things as beer cans or apples; the painted imitations of tins of soup: all is grist to the Pop artists' mill, since no aspect of modem life is excluded as an art form.


The Following is a discussion of some of the more popular methods of making prints.  Four Basic Methods

  3. Planographic (LITHOGRAPHY)
  4. Stencil (SERIGRAPHY)


  • A version of the artwork produced for review.


  • (Fr. Source, origin).  The provenance of a work of art is its pedigree.  A complete record of its ownership is its provenance, and it is the duty of the cataloguer to establish , as far as humanly possible, the provenance of a work of art.  In some cases – e.g. the Sistine ceiling – no doubt is possible, but the exact pedigree of a picture by Vermeer or Van Gogh is a matter of great importance, especially to the dealer trying to sell it.



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  • The main techniques are WOODCUT and WOOD ENGRAVING, LINOCUT and its simpler forms, such as Potato cuts. A plain block of wood, if covered with printing ink and pressed on a sheet of paper, would print as a black rectangle: but if channels were cut into the surface with a gouge these would not catch the ink, and, therefore, would print as white patches. The principle of a woodcut is therefore to leave the black lines or patches as untouched wood and to cut away the parts intended to print as white. A single black line has to have the wood on each side of it cut away, and this is done with special knives and gouges.


  • Proofs with a scribbled drawing or other mark in the margin to indicate a supposed superiority to ordinary proofs.


  • The repair or reconditioning of works of art by replacing missing parts and filling in missing areas.


  • An impression made from a plate, block, lithographic stone, silkscreen stencil, mold, or die of any multiple-replica process after the original edition has been exhausted; especially, an impression made after the first impression has been in circulation for an appreciable length of time.


  • Making changes on a finished picture by going over it with fresh paint.  The term is usually confined to work done on a picture by the artist who originally painted it.


  • A type of paper.




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  • Creative SILKSCREEN printmaking, in which the artist designs, makes, and prints his or her own stencils.  All the standard techniques for preparing silkscreen stencils are used in making serigraphs.  A serigraph differs from most other graphic arts proofs in that its color areas are paint films rather than printing ink stains.  It is, in addition, a direct, extremely versatile technique that can simulate, in an unlimited range of colors, the impasto of oil colors, the transparent washes of watercolors, and the effects of gouache and pastel- which justifies the widely held opinion that serigraphy is as much a painter's as a printmaker's medium.  When the artist uses the best rag paper, permanent pigments, and a non-yellowing acrylic or alkyd transparent base, the prints are probably as permanent as any other.  In serigraphy, following standards established for the production of ORIGINAL PRINTS, the artist is expected to execute the entire process without assistance.  If the artist prints a numbered LIMITED EDITION, he or she destroys the stencils after completing the run or clearly identifies a RE-STRIKE edition.  Re-strikes, however, are seldom a consideration in serigraphy because, for any edition of a print, most serographers use no more than one or two screens, cleaning them and re-stenciling them after each color run.  The use of silk screen as an artists medium began in 1938, when a group of New York artists under the auspices of the Federal Art Project experimented with silk screening and fully developed all its artistic potentials.


  • A color stencil printing process in which the coloring matter is forced with a squeegee through a fine screen, on which nonprinting areas have been blocked out, onto the printing surface below.  The creation of ORIGINAL PRINTS by the silkscreen method is called SERIGRAPHY .  The screen most commonly used in the process is a fine nylon cloth, stretched commonly on and attached to a wooden frame.  In a serigrapher's studio, the frame is commonly hinged to a flat bed or table, on which the paper or other printing surface is placed.  A simple prop bar keeps the screen raised above the bed while a printed proof is removed and fresh paper is inserted.


  • A rough draft of the whole


  • A painting or drawing of a group of inanimate objects contrived by the artist according to some theme, either symbolic or merely aesthetic. The still life is usually set indoors and contains at least one man made object, perhaps the table on which a group is arranged or, in a floral still life, the vase that contains a bunch of flowers, thus differing from a drawing from nature, which portrays such objects as rocks and flowers in their natural setting.


  • Stipple, crayon engraving, and color printing were popular 18th century techniques. Stipple and crayon engraving were used particularly for the reproduction of portrait drawings, giving an effect remarkably similar to that of a chalk drawing. It is obtained by a combination of etching and engraving techniques, stippling dots over a grounded plate with the point of an etching needle or, more usually, by the use of special tools; a Roulette is a spur like wheel which gives an effect similar, to the grainy quality of chalk, and it can be combined with a Mattoir, which is an instrument like a tiny club with sharp points projecting from the head. These points produce a grained effect on the bare copper which prints as black, chalk-like dots. Occasionally the effect of two-color chalks is obtained by printing from two plates, usually black and red.
  • Color engravings of the 18th century fall into two main categories, English and French. The finest English color prints are usually based on the aquatint process and are made by a single printing from a plate colored in the appropriate areas. Some English color prints are, in fact, monochrome AQUATINTS hand colored in watercolor, and both Girtin and Turner earned a living coloring engravings at the beginning of their careers.
  • The French technique, sometimes called maniere de lavis, is an imitation of a wash drawing or a watercolor obtained by the use of a great number of roulettes, mattoirs and gravers. The use of these tools gave the tones, but the actual colors were printed from four separate plates  yellow, red, blue, and black, printed in that order, the black being the most important since it defined the contours. The most difficult part of this technique is to ensure that one plate is printed exactly on top of another  'in register'.


  • A drawing or painting of a detail, such as a figure, a hand, or a piece of drapery, made for the purpose of study or for use in a larger composition. A study should never be confused with a SKETCH, whereas a study may be very highly wrought but does not usually embrace more than a part of the composition.


  • The one major process which involves no cutting into the block or plate, and therefore no 'engraving' in the proper sense, is LITHOGRAPHY, usually executed on a thick slab of stone, although zinc is now pore common as it is both lighter and less fragile. The whole technique, invented in 1798 by Alois Senefelder, is based on the fact that water runs off a greasy surface. The design is drawn or painted on the stone with a greasy chalk and then the stone is wetted. When the greasy ink is rolled on the stone it will not 'take' on the wet parts, but it sticks on the parts which are already greasy, off which the water ran. The new process was taken up by several 19th century artists, including Delacroix, Goya, Garicault, Daumier, Manet, and others, and it is still a popular medium. It is used very widely for posters and other forms of commercial art, since it produces many thousands of prints. Chromolithography, to give it its full name, can be used for color printing, with one stone for each color, printed in register. The first major work produced by this method was Boys' 'Picturesque Architecture', 1839, Its great advantage is that there is almost no limit to the number of prints it is possible to take. See also SERIGRAPHY .



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  • The ability of a substance to transmit light without affording clear visibility.  A substance with this property is said to be translucent. See TRANSPARENT


  • Transmitting light freely; clear and glasslike without any opacity or cloudiness




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  • A heavy, high-grade paper, natural or cream-colored.



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  • The principle is based on cutting away that portion of the wood block not to be printed, leaving in relief that portion of the material which is inked and from which prints are taken.  You may visualize this by thinking of a rubber stamp, which is also a relief printing method.  Color woodcuts are achieved by using a separate block of wood for each color.
  • Woodcuts are done on blocks of soft wood, cut plank-fashion, and will give hundreds, or even thousands, of impressions before wearing out. Linoleum is often used nowadays, as it is easier to work, but its life is shorter. Color prints are produced by cutting a special block for each color as well as a key block, usually printed black, which carries the linear structure, (see CHIAROSCURO woodcut), and these have to be printed in register, so that the forms do not overlap. The earliest woodcuts date, from the end of the 14th century, but wood engraving hardly occurs before the mid18th century. Wood engraving is very similar to engraving on copper, using the same kind of tool, called a graver or burin. The main difference between wood engraving and woodcut is in the block itself, which is of boxwood, cut across the grain, for wood engraving. On this smooth, grainless surface the sharply pointed engraving tools can plough very fine furrows each of which will print as a fine white line. Obviously, it is far easier to think in terms of white lines on a predominantly black ground, and the great modern revival (since about 1920) of wood engraving has been of  the white line or Xylographic: type, which offers a means of stylized design.

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