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The Painterly Print: Monotypes from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
276 pages
170 illustrations
9 x 10.25 in
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Monotype is a print medium whose simple concept, spontaneous process, and elegant result attract both artists and collectors. The earliest monotypes date from the 1640s, when Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione printed compositions he drew into ink spread on un-incised metal plates. Since then, artists have periodically rediscovered the technique for themselves. Degas's prolific experiments with monotype at the end of the nineteenth century led to some of the most beautiful examples ever. Indeed, their exhibition in 1968 at the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was a major factor in the recent surge of interest in the medium by artists and art historians. This book presents the first historical survey of monotypes. Curators from the departments of prints, drawings, and photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, discuss and illustrate 106 unique prints by forty-two artists ranging from Rembrandt and Castiglione, Matisse and Picasso, Prendergast and Chase, to such diverse contemporary figures as Jim Dine, Sam Francis, Robert Motherwell, and Richard Diebenkorn.

An essay by art historian Eugenia Parry Janis explains how the mid-nineteenth-century etching revival fostered a dramatic use of creatively inked etching plates and thus a renewed interest in monotypes. Finally, artist Michael Mazur describes the methods of monotyping as well as the exhilarations and frustrations it can produce for the printmaker. Working with special paper, inks and paints, multiple plates, and images altered in sequence, artists have expanded a personal and experimental medium into a brilliant means of exploring their ideas.

Nocturne, James McNeill Whistler  American, Etching and drypoint; sixth state of nine (Glasgow); printed in black ink on heavy cream Japan
James McNeill Whistler
The Engraver Joseph Tourny, Edgar Degas  French, Etching (only state); fourth printing on laid paper (with corrosion partly cleaned and additional scratches)
Edgar Degas
Joseph-Gabriel Tourny
The Engraver Joseph Tourny, Edgar Degas  French, Etching on laid paper; third printing with surface tone
Edgar Degas
Joseph-Gabriel Tourny
1857, printed mid-1860s
The Entombment, Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn)  Dutch, Etching, drypoint, and engraving; second of four states
Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn)
ca. 1654
The Entombment, Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn)  Dutch, Etching and drypoint ; first of four states
Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn)
ca. 1654
Pity, William Blake  British, Relief etching, printed in color and finished with pen and ink and watercolor
William Blake
William Shakespeare
ca. 1795
The Fireside, Edgar Degas  French, Monotype in black ink on white heavy laid paper
Edgar Degas
ca. 1876–77
The Jet Earring, Edgar Degas  French, Monotype printed in black ink on white wove paper
Edgar Degas
Landscape, Edgar Degas  French, Monotype in oil colors, heightened with pastel
Edgar Degas
Portrait of James NcNeill Whistler, Charles Abel Corwin  American, Monotype
Charles Abel Corwin
James McNeill Whistler
William Merritt Chase
ca. 1890–95
Arthur B. Davies
ca. 1895–1900
Horse and Cab, Eugene Higgins  American, Monotype
Eugene Higgins
ca. 1909
Nude in a Landscape, Albert Sterner  American, born England, Monotype printed in color
Albert Sterner
Seated Nude with Arms Crossed, Henri Matisse  French, Monotype
Henri Matisse
Milton Avery
Michael Mazur
Sam Francis
Michael Mazur