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The Print: History, Theory, and Practice: General Sources on Prints and Printmaking

General Sources on Prints and Printmaking


Béguin, André.  Technical Dictionary of Printmaking.  (Translation by Allan J. Grieco of Dictionnaire Technique de l'Estampe.)  Brussels: A. Béguin, 1981–1984.

Somewhat rough-and-ready edition of a dictionary that defines and describes printmaking techniques, materials, equipment, and terms.  Includes illustrations, tables, diagrams, and a fairly lengthy bibliography.

Clark Reference NE850 A1 B43 E  Vols. 1–3


Field, Richard S., ed.  Census of Fifteenth-Century Prints in Public Collections of the United States and Canada.  New Haven:  Print Council of America, 1995.

Union list of 15th-century prints; inclusion of prints is based on Wilhelm Ludwig Schreiber.

Section I: Woodcuts, metalcuts and pasteprints of the 15th century.  Follows the system laid out by Wilhelm Ludwig Schreiber in Handbuch der Holz- und Metallschnitte des XV. Jarhhunderts, which catalogs prints iconographically.

Section II: Northern engravings of the 15th century.  Organization follows Max Lehrs' Geschichte und Kritischer Katalog des Deutschen, Neiderlandischen, und Franzosischen Kupferstichs um 15. Jahrhunderts

Section III:  Italian Nielle and engravings of the 15th century. Based on Arthur M. Hind's Early Italian Engraving, augmented in the case of nielle by Eugene Dutuit's Manuel de l'Amateur d'Estampes, 2eme Partie, Nielles and Arthur M. Hind's Nielle, Chiefly Italian of the  XV Century, Plates, Sulphur Casts and Prints, Preserved in the British Museum.

Clark Stacks  N510 A9305 1995


*Gascoigne, Bamber.  How to Identify Prints: A Complete Guide to Manual and Mechanical Processes from Woodcut to Ink Jet.  London: Thames & Hudson, 2004.

A book "not intended for reading" but "for dipping into as part of a specific detective process…analyzing how a printer's ink has been transferred to a particular piece of paper which carries an image."  Three main sections, linked by cross-references:  Part I describes the three types of prints, including "images not really prints but called prints" (e.g. screenprint, Xerox and laser, and inkjet);  Part II describes and illustrates visual evidence that can be used to identify and clarify areas of confusion, identify details based on historical development of genres and techniques, and draw conclusions based on details of technical processes;  Part III defines terminology for families of prints, lays out a "Sherlock Holmes approach" to print identification, and includes a glossary-index that references numbered sections of the book and defines technical terms. 

Stacks  NE850 G37 2004


*Griffiths, Anthony.  Prints and Printmaking: An Introduction to the History and Techniques.  Berkeley and Los Angeles:  University of California Press, 1996.

Intended as a guide for the general reader wishing to understand the main categories and processes of printmaking, as well as how and by whom each method was used.  Western art only.   Sections include relief printing processes (woodcut, linocut, wood-engraving, and metalcut and relief etching), intaglio printing processes (engraving, etching, drypoint, crayon manner and stipple, mezzotint, aquatint, and soft-ground etching), lithography, screen printing, color printing, and photomechanical reproduction processes (relief printing, intaglio printing, surface printing, and color printing).

Stacks  NE400 G74 1996


*Hults, Linda C.  The Print in the Western World:  An Introductory History.  Madison:  University of Wisconsin Press, 1996.

Scholarly, chronological introduction to the history of prints in the Western world from 1400, when paper became widely available in Europe, to about 1980.  Chapters reflect various approaches to understanding prints, while remaining consistent with the chronological arrangement.  Excellent background source, giving a sense of the context and development of the print.  Chapters conclude with lengthy bibliographies.

Stacks  NE400 H85


*Ivins, William Mills.  How Prints Look:  Photographs with a Commentary.  Boston: Beacon Press, 1958.

Describes the basic processes of the three types of printmaking, with illustrations and captions that show fine details of technique, materials, or process and that give details on the impact of a given technique on artistic practice or on aesthetic taste or understanding.  Includes a short chapter on color in printmaking, and another on “copies, facsimiles, and other bothersome matters” with details on how to tell the difference between originals and copies.  The final chapter briefly places prints in a social, artistic, and economic context, with sections on the social importance of graphic techniques, the influence of illustration, and the economics of print publishing.

Stacks  NE400 I8h Repr.


Ivins, William Mills. Prints and Visual Communication. (Da Capo Press Series in Graphic Art, Vol. 10.) New York: Da Capo Press, 1969.

Focuses on the important role of prints as vehicles for information, supplementing or supplanting the written word. Approaches prints — "among the most important and powerful tools of modern life and thought" — as repeatable pictorial statements or communications that have had a great impact on human knowledge and thought, and therefore on human history and society.

Clark Stacks NE400 I8 Repr.


Karpinski, Caroline. Italian Printmaking, Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries: An Annotated Bibliography. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1987.

Introduction serves as a good overview of the course of scholarship on Italian Renaissance prints. Bibliography is divided into 16 categories, including reference sources and general histories, history of publishing and commerce, iconography, histories of techniques, etc.

Clark Reference ZNE659 K37


Landau, David, and Peter Parshall.  The Renaissance Print 1470–1550 New Haven:  Yale University Press, 1994.

A scholarly account of how Renaissance prints were "realized, distributed, acquired, and eventually handled by their public," through an examination of material and institutional circumstances and the study of workshop practices and technical aesthetic experimentation.  Arguments are based on evidence gathered from detailed examination of prints and from surviving documents.

Clark Stacks  NE440 L28


Ludman, Joan.  Fine Print References: A Selected Bibliography of Print-Related Literature.  Millwood, NY: Kraus International Publications, 1972.

Deals with "the published writings on prints from all historical periods and every part of the world.  All possible references are cited on the history and technique of fine and historic prints."  Not included are photographs, posters, bookplates, illustrations, or ephemera.  Chapters on collecting and connoisseurship, the history of printmaking, competitions and exhibitions, the processes of printmaking, museum collections, private collections, reference works, society and club publications, and topical prints. 

Clark Reference ZNE485 L83


Mayor, A. Hyatt.  Prints and People: A Social History of Printed Pictures.  Helga Harrison and Dennis Corbyn, trans.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971.

A "wonderful, rambling book" that "gives an excellent sense of the illustrative aspects of printmaking, moving from these with ease to the aesthetic pinnacles of the history of prints,"  a history that ranges from the invention of paper in China to Ben Shahn in 1960 and includes short sections on such topics as the first printed books, herbals and scientific illustration, the German Little Masters, books of hours, and much more.

Clark Stacks  NE400 M39


Melot, Michel, et al.  Prints: History of an Art.  New York:  Rizzoli, 1981.

Four principal sections:  the definition, function, and language of the print; the print as a product and work of art; the print as an art of the bourgeoisie; and industrialized pictures and their effect on the print.  Also includes a glossary of technical terms and a bibliography of standard works on the arts and techniques of the print published from the 17th to the 19th century.

Clark Stacks  NE400 M45


Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.) and Richard BensonThe Printed Picture. New York: Museum of Modern Art, c2008.

Exhibition catalogue on the history and techniques of all processes used to print pictures, including planographic, intaglio, relief, photographic, digital, and more. The accompanying website has a wealth of additional material.

Clark Stacks   NE2606 N4996 2008  

Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt at the Louvre

Edgar Degas. Mary Cassatt at the Louvre : The Paintings Gallery. Etching, softground etching, aquatint and drypoint on china paper, 1879-1880. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass.