j. michael howard
visual artist
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Art Print Annotations

what they all mean

louis delsarte
Intaglio Print "Mother and Child"
Etching by Louis Delsarte


As art is produced in limited numbers, each work in the "edition" is then signed and numbered in sequence as it is completed by the Artist, Master Printer or both. The Printing process occurs in stages. Various types of Printing "proofs" are created as the printmaker prepares the printing surface before the main edition is printed...and afterwards. One must consider that with each print that is hand-pulled from a printing surface, wear occurs incrementally and over time. Image sharpness and intensity is lessened with each hand-pulled print. It is therefore standard practice for Artists and Printmakers to sequence and document each work as it is produced during the various stages. Typically, when a limited edition art project is completed an Artist or Printer might destroy or deface the printing surface as a show of integrity and to guarantee exclusivity. In select cases, the actual printing surface itself might be kept and regarded as a work of art. Plates may also be held for modified versions of the original edition.

The notations and abbreviations listed below are used to document the stage of completion and sequence of a limited edition artwork in addition to explaining the degree of Artist and/or Printer involvement the creation process.

2nd ed
- Second edition: prints of the same image as the original edition but altered in some way (as in change of color, paper or printing process).

2nd st - Second state: prints of proofs which contain significant changes from the original print.

AP - Artist's Proof

Del - (Latin, delineavit) He (she) drew it. Generally inscribed next to the artist's signature.

E.A. - (French, épreuve d'artist) An artist's proof

Exc or Imp - (Latin, excudit) He(she) executed it. The meaning is synonymous with (Latin, impressit) he(she) printed it.

HC - (French, Hors d'Commerce) Prints from an edition intended to be used as samples to show to dealers and galleries.

Inc. or Sculp - (Latin, incidit) He(she) cut it. The meaning is synonymous with (Latin, impressit) he(she) carved it. These abbreviations refer to the individuals who engraved the master plate.

Inv. or Invent - (Latin, invenit) He(she) designed it. Generally inscribed next to the artist's signature.

Lith. or Litho - "Lithographed By". Usually follows the name of the printer of the lithograph.

Pinx. - (Latin, pinxit) He(she) painted it. Generally inscribed next to the artist's signature.

PP - Printer's proof

TP - Trial proof

Provenance - Record of ownership for a work of art, ideally from the time it left the artist's studio to it's present location, thus creating an unbroken ownership history.

Remarque - Small sketch in the margin of an art print or additional enhancements by the artist on some or all of the final prints within an edition.

Restrike - Additional prints made from a master plate, block, lithograph stone, etc. after the original edition has been exhausted.

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