Looking at Prints, Drawings, And Watercolours (Art eBook)

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Impresses, desenhos e aguarelas


  • Looking at /

    Prints, Drawings andWatercoloursA Guide to Technical Terms

    Paul Goldman

  • Looking at

    Prints, Drawings and


    ^60 ^^

  • Looking at

    Prints, Drawings and


    A Guide to Technical Terms

    Paul Goldman

    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

  • Foreword

    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,

  • 5 J

    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 apparentlyneither pricked nor indented) and theVirgin and Child by Raphael which wasused for the so-called MackintoshMadonna in the National Gallery,London (which is partly pricked and partlyindented). The chalk dust rubbed throughthe perforations in the paper would alsoaffect the appearance of a cartoon by caus-ing a 'greying 7 ; some small-scale cartoonswere drawn in pen and ink, so the mainoutlines are still visible after this 'grey-ing'. These are usually cartoons for paint-ings executed on wooden panels.Cartoons have also traditionally beenused in the manufacture of tapestries andstained glass.An 'auxiliary cartoon' is a term coined by

    the German art-historian Oskar Fischel todescribe Raphael's practice of makingsubsidiary detailed studies based uponoutlines traced through from the com-plete cartoon. Such details were of heads,hands, etc., which the artist wanted torealise with particular care. The drawingswould have been kept close at hand as aguide when Raphael came to execute thecorresponding passages in his painting.The more frequent modern use of theword 'cartoon', remote from its original

    meaning, denotes a humorous or sarcas-tic representation of a current topic, fre-quently political. This usage dates fromabout 1843, when an exhibition was heldin Westminster Hall of cartoons fromwhich designs were to be selected for thefresco decoration of the new Houses ofParliament. Punch facetiously entered thecompetition with a composition by JohnLeech, and this was the first such drawingto be called a cartoon.


    1 Natural chalksNatural chalks of various colours arederived from earths. Natural grey chalk isobtained from brick clay, natural redchalk from the red ochre variety ofhaematite, natural white chalk from thechalk variety of calcite or soapstone, andnatural black chalk from carbonaceousshale. For drawing purposes, lumps ofthese materials were reduced in size andinserted into metal holders, and the draw-ing end was shaved to a point.

    Red chalk was known by the sixteenthcentury and deposits were recorded inItaly, Spain, Flanders, France and Ger-many. Numerous Renaissance artistsdrew in red chalk, and Leonardo da Vinci,Michelangelo and Correggio were amongthe most distinguished exponents of themedium. These natural red chalks variedin colour according to differences in thenatural compositions of the red ochrevariety of haematites in different deposits.Variation in hue could also be obtained bywetting the chalk before application.'Sanguine' is another term for red chalkwhich is often found in older references.

    Black chalk appeared at about the sametime as red chalk and was similarly minedthroughout western Europe. By the lateeighteenth and early nineteenth cen-turies, however, the use and importanceof black chalk had declined, largely

    Red chalkRembrandt van Rijn (1606-69): NudeWoman with a Snake (as Cleopatra),c.1637. Red and white chalk, 248 x 137 mm(9! x 5in). JPGM, 81.GB.27.


  • 13

  • Black chalkAnnibale Carracci (1560-1609): Three Studies of Men (recto), mid-i58os. Black chalk,

    277 x 207 mm (10I x 8s in). JPGM, 85.GB.218.


  • 1 i ? . r&r'




    WBBmm ^% < -** j /^ - ^^Aux trois crayons (above)Jean Antoine Watteau (1684-1721): Studies of Three Ladies,c.1716/17. Red, black and whitechalk, 268 x 327 mm (iofg xiafin). JPGM, 86.GB.596.


    White chalkGiovanni Battista Piazzetta(1683-1754): A Boy Holding aPear, c.1740. Black and whitechalk on blue-grey paper, 392 x309 mm (isrg x 12^ in). JPGM,86.GB.677.


  • PastelFrancois Lemoine (i 688-1 737): Head of the Goddess Hebe. Pastels on blue paper, 311 x258mm (124 x login). BM, 1850-3-9-1.

    because its quality was variable, and itbegan to be replaced with fine blackCRAYONS.

    White chalk was known widely in Renais-sance times, when it was primarilyemployed to heighten drawings in othermedia. Because of its softness it was es-pecially easy to shape into sticks or insertinto holders.

    A technique especially favoured byFrench artists of the eighteenth century,notably Watteau, was called 'aux troiscrayons'. It was a combination of red,black and white natural chalks, usually ona yellowish or off-white paper.

    2 Fabricated chalks (Pastels)Fabricated chalks or pastels are dry draw-ing media made from powdered pigments


  • CharcoalJean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin (1699-1779): Study for a Seated Man (recto), c. 1720-25.Charcoal and white chalk, 256 x 167 mm (iorg x 6^ in). JPGM, 85.GB.224.


  • Chiaroscuro woodcutBartolommeo Coriolano (C.1599-C.1676)after Guido Reni (1 575-1642): A Giant.Chiaroscuro woodcut, 257 x 193 mm (io|x7! in). BM, w.5-30.

    combined with non-greasy binders. Theyare used in the form of finger-lengthsticks. The marks made by pastels areopaque, and specially prepared papers,often tinted or ribbed, have been manufac-tured for pastel drawing since theeighteenth century. The colours may bemixed by smudging, using the fingers or astump, or may be combined optically - ausage much favoured by Degas.Pastels originated in Northern Italy in

    the sixteenth century and were used bymany artists, notably Bassano andBarocci. At the same time portraits inpastel were being made by Hans Holbeinthe Younger and Jean Clouet. The tech-nique was perfected in the eighteenth cen-tury, especially by artists such as Quentinde La Tour and Rosalba Camera, againchiefly for portraiture, and the art wasrevived in the late nineteenth century byDegas and Toulouse-Lautrec amongothers. See crayon and Conte crayon.

    Charcoal Charcoal is made by redu...


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