What is a print ?

The word “print” was already used in old french in the forms : print, estampe or stampe. It comes from the Italian stampa, which derives itself from the Germanic (stampfen in German).

Since 1647, we used the word in the current sense of image printed by means of an engraved plate.

Indeed, in the strict sense, the print means, the result of an engraving printing.

Print "Tachimawari"
A print of a Japanese Kabuki dancer. It is a theme dear to Claude Weisbuch. It has earned him recognition in Japan.

About etching, it is the set of techniques that use the palm or the incision to produce a plate designed to reproduce a work. The principle is to cut or dig, using a tool or a bite, a matrix, that after inking, is printed on paper or other media.

Today, for convenience, some authors also call print, the draw obtained by latest reproduction techniques. For example, lithography or serigraphy, yet using different principles. The terms enshrined lovers are:

  • engraving, for the results of printing an engraving on a plate of copper for example and
  • lithography for printing of a print made with this technique on a lithographic stone.

Print original or not?

The original print is a work of creation obtained by printing a matrix (or several matrices in the case of a full color printing) created by the artist himself or under his direct control.

It is this kind of work, which has the largest value.

Through the intervention of the artist, the original print is distinguished from other types of prints. For example, the copy performed according to another engraving, adaptation or reproduction of an existing work ; In short any realization not due to the hands of the artist.


There are essentially two methods of printing for prints. Printing “size of savings” and the “intaglio prints”. The tools or products employees ranging from one technique to the other, scrutiny of a print to recognize the process used.

LINE-ENGRAVING or intaglio printing

It is obtained from matrices notched using tools, or chemically acid. After inking, the matrix is wiped clean to allow the ink to be deposited in the hollows. It is then subject to strong pressure to allow ink to be deposited on the paper.

intaglio Matrix
Claude Weisbuch in the process of anchoring a matrix in intaglio. The inking is done with a roller and the surplus is wiped with a rag and by hand.

A print obtained by the process of engraving on copper is called a diagram. This process is one of the most used by Claude Weisbuch.

The main techniques used are:

The burin. It is the oldest linear engraving technique. The chisel on the metal plate movement causes a notch with uprises a spiral chip. The model is obtained by a series of parallel sizes.

The dry point. This is another linear engraving process. The tool used is a very hard steel needle. The line got to print is thinner than chisel.

Etching. It is a process of indirect size by bite of metal with an acid. The varnish covering the metal plate is clear to allow the acid to act. There are many processes derived as the varnish soft, aquatint and way of pencil.

The Mezzotint. This process allows for the gray values without resorting to hatching or stippling. The rough side plate evenly is scratched or polished so as to gradually lighten areas that we want to see emerge from the black background.

Printing in relief or CUT of savings

It is obtained from matrices for which highlight the parts no printers are removed mechanically or chemically. It is the protruding part of the carved plank which is inked. Contact with strong pressure on paper, or other product support embosses it.

Former matrix of banknotes, method of saving size
An old matrix of banknotes realized in size of savings. That is, the printed parts correspond to the projecting elements.

inscriptions on a print

The legend, which appears in a print, bears the name of “letter”. This may indicate, the name of the drive name of the Publisher, the title of the work, date of its realization, etc..

Since the mid-15ᵉ century, it was customary to use Latin abbreviations to clarify the function of stakeholders on the matrix.

For example: pinx. for pinxit: painted; del, delin. for delineavit: drew; comp. for composuit: composed; Inv., invent. for invenit: invented; SC., sculps. for sculpsit: cut; f., fe, fec. for fecit: made. Since the end of the 19ᵉ century, these indications have been replaced by handwritten notes in pencil in the lower margin of the print.

Roman numerals of an artist's proof
Here it is a test of artist, the numbering is in Roman numerals.

On the right, there is usually the artist’s signature and the date of printing. Left may be a fraction that indicates the sequence number of the drawing on the total number of copies.

We sometimes also the phrase ‘and others ‘. “reserved for the preliminary prints called artist’s proofs. The title of the work may also appear in the Center, between the fraction and the signature.

2 thoughts on “Print

  1. Malcolm Mickey Walker Reply

    I have a Weisbuch piece possibly to list.

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