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Prints, Drawings andWatercoloursA Guide to Technical Terms
Prints, Drawings and
Prints, Drawings and
A Guide to Technical Terms
British Museum Publications
in association with the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu
CoverPaul Cezanne (1839-1906): Still Life (detail), c.1900-1906.Watercolour and graphite, 480 x 631 mm (i8tI X24gin).JPGM, 83.GC.221.
Title pageJohn Everett Millais (1829-96): Lost Love, 1859. Watercolourand bodycolour with gum arabic, 103 x 85 mm Urg X 3hi)-BM, 1937-4-10-3.
1988 The Trustees of the British MuseumPublished by British Museum Publications Ltd46 Bloomsbury Street, London wcib 3qqin association withThe J. Paul Getty Museum17985 Pacific Coast HighwayMalibu, California 90406
Copyright of the illustrations is indicated in the captionsby the initials BM (British Museum) or JPGM (J. Paul Getty Museum).The illustration on p. 5 8 is Frederick Warne & Co. 1986.British Library Cataloguing in Publication DataGoldman, PaulLooking at prints, drawings and watercolours: a guide to technical terms.1. Graphic arts. TerminologyI. Title II. British Museum III. J. PaulGetty Museum760'.014
isbn 0-7141-1638-6 (British Museum Publications)
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataGoldman, Paul.Looking at prints, drawings, and watercolours.1. ArtDictionaries. I. Title.N33.G65 1988 76o'.03'2i 88-13241
isbn 0-89236-148-4 (Getty Museum)
Designed by Cinamon and KitzingerTypeset by Wyvern Typesetting Ltd, BristolPrinted in Italy by Arti Grafiche Motta
Jost Amman (1539-91): The Woodcutter,1568. Woodcut, 79 x 59 mm [3^ x 2^ in).BM, 159. d. ii, 1904-2-6-103(19).
Many art-historians and museum cura-tors assume, often wrongly, that the termswhich they employ to describe prints,drawings and watercolours are readilyunderstood by the majority of visitorsto exhibitions and readers of catalogues.Definitions of these terms are invariablydifficult to find in reference books, andtherefore the aim of this publication is tobring together many of the most com-monly found ones and attempt to clarifytheir meanings. This book has grown outof two earlier publications by the author,Looking at Drawings (1979) and Lookingat Prints (1981). Although this is moreambitious in scale, the purpose remainsthe same: to be as accurate as possiblewithin the confines of space.The book is directed at the person look-
ing at traditional collections of prints,drawings and watercolours and hencedeals only briefly with photomechanicalprocesses and some modern develop-ments in original printmaking.
I have relied heavily on the help of mycolleagues in the Department of Prints andDrawings at the British Museum, notablyAntony Griffiths, Nicholas Turner, Lind-say Stainton, Martin Royalton-Kisch andFrances Carey. I am also indebted to EricHarding and Alan Donnithorne in theWestern Pictorial Art Section of theDepartment of Conservation.
Aquatint: enlarged detail. AquatintPaul Sandby (1730-1809): The Encampmentin the Museum Garden, 1783. Aquatint,340 x 478 mm (13s x i8ilin). BM,1 904-8-1 9-7 32.
NoteWords printed in small capitals refer toother entries in the book. Terms which do nothave separate entries are in inverted commas.
Aquatint A variety of etching andessentially a tone process which can beused to imitate the appearance of water-colour washes. The chief element of theprocess, which was invented in France inthe 1760s, is the partial protection of thesurface of the plate with a porous groundthrough which the acid can penetrate. Theplate is covered with a ground of powderedresin which is attached to the plate byheating. In etching, the acid bites tinyrings around each resin grain, and thesehold sufficient ink when printed to givethe effect of a wash. The printmaker will'stop out' with a protecting varnish any
parts of the ground where he wishes toobtain pure white. Gradations of tone canbe achieved by careful repetition of thebiting and varnishing process or byburnishing. This has the disadvantage ofbeing a 'negative' process, since the'stopped-out' areas remain white.An alternative 'positive' process is
'sugar' or 'lift-ground' aquatint. The plateis covered in resin as in ordinary aquatintand the artist draws on the surface in asolution of sugar and water. A varnish isthen laid over the entire plate, which isthen immersed in water. This causes thesugar under the varnish to swell and lift,
exposing the aquatint ground; the plate isthen bitten and printed in the normal way.
Artist's proof In twentieth-century print-making, an artist's proof is an impressionsigned by the artist and annotated 'AP' (orsomething similar) which is extra to theordinary numbered edition. The practiceof signing proofs began, however, in thenineteenth century.
Ascribed A drawing is 'ascribed' to anartist when it has been given to him bytradition, most frequently by an inscrip-tion on the drawing or on its mount. Theterm, however, suggests some doubt inthe mind of the cataloguer as to the cor-rectness of this tradition.
Attributed A drawing is 'attributed' to anartist on the grounds of style or some goodexternal evidence; however, some doubtremains about its authorship.
Baxter Print In 1835, George Baxterpatented a printing technique under hisown name. It involved overprinting anintaglio key-plate with numerous woodor metal blocks inked in oil colours. Thetechnique was used by others under
licence from Baxter, most notably by LeBlond, and fell into disuse after 1865. (SeeC. T. Courtney Lewis, George Baxter thePicture Printer, London, 1924.)
Bodycolour Any type of opaque water-soluble pigment. At an early period theopaque medium employed was leadwhite. In 1834 Winsor and Newton intro-duced Chinese White, which is zinc oxide,and this was marketed as a substitute forlead white.The bodycolour medium was known in
the late fifteenth century when Diirermade drawings of landscapes, animals andflowers in a combination of bodycolourand watercolour. Later artists such asRubens and Van Dyck also made exten-sive use of bodycolour, but it reached itsgreatest popularity in the 1820s and 1830sin England when watercolourists, mostnotably Turner, exploited it to the full,combining the opacity of the lights withthe transparency of the washes of colour.Sometimes they executed works in body-colour alone. Drawings loosely termed'watercolours' are frequently found to bedone in a combination of transparentpigments with opaque ones. See alsoTEMPERA, WATERCOLOUR, GOUACHEandHEIGHTENING.
Baxter PrintGeorge Baxter (1804-67): Gems of the Great Exhibition No. 2,120 x 241 mm (4? x 92 in). BM, 1901-1 1-5-20.
52. Baxter Print,
BodycoiourAlbrecht Diirer (1471-1528): Stag Beetle, 1505. Watercolour and bodycolour, 142 x 114 mm[sfe x 42 in). JPGM, 83.GC.214.
Brush Brushes have been used for draw-ing since ancient times. From themedieval period brushes were fine andpointed and were made usually of squirrelhair fixed into the tapered ends of quills.Many drawings described as having beenexecuted in pen are often found on closerexamination to have been drawn with afine brush.
Camera Obscura and Lucida The CameraObscura was an optical apparatus consist-ing of a darkened chamber, at the top ofwhich was placed a box or lantern con-taining a convex lens and a sloping mirror.The view passed through the lens and wasreflected by the mirror onto a sheet ofpaper placed at the bottom of the box. Inthis way a three-dimensional view was
Brush drawingRembrandt van Rijn (1606-69): A Girl Sleeping (Hendrickje Stoffelsl). Brush drawing inbrown ink, 245 x 203 mm (9I x 8rg in). BM, 1895-9-15-1279.
reduced to a two-dimensional image,which could be traced or otherwise usedto help the artist reproduce the viewaccurately. The apparatus was first men-tioned by the German astronomer JohannKepler in the first decade of the seven-teenth century, but the principles behindits use were described in Chinese texts ofthe fifth century bc. (See J. Hammond,The Camera Obscura - A Chronicle,Bristol, 1981.)
The Camera Lucida was a developmentfrom the Camera Obscura. It consisted ofa glass prism mounted on the end of anadjustable arm. It was an awkward instru-ment to use because the operator's eye hadto be placed so that the centre of the pupilwas directly above the edge of the prism. Areflection of the view or object was seen inthe prism by half the eye and the point ofthe drawing instrument by the other half.As the images merged on the retina, the
CartoonRaphael (Raffaello Santi, 1483-1520): The Virgin and Child. Cartoon corresponding with theMackintosh Madonna. Black chalk with some traces of white heightening, 710 x 535 mm(27H x 2iin). BM, 1894-7-21-1.
outline of the reflection could be traced. Itwas invented at the beginning of thenineteenth century by Dr William HydeWollaston for drawing in perspective. (See
J. Hammond and J. Austin, The CameraLucida in Art and Science, Bristol, 1987.)
Cartoon A drawing of the principal formsof a composition, made to the same scaleas the painting or fresco for which it ispreparatory. For some frescoes the cartoon
was applied in sections to the wall and theoutlines cut through on the wet plaster,destroying the cartoon in the process. Thecartoon was sometimes preserved bytransferring its design onto a second-ary cartoon, a sheet of paper placedbeneath the first, by pricking (seepounce) or indenting it with a stylus.This secondary cartoon would be placedon the wall.Examples of cartoons in the BritishMuseum collection are the Epifania byMichelangelo (which is apparen