Includes bibliographical references (pages 501-545) and indexes.
1. The European print 1550-1820 -- Pt. I. Print production -- 2. The technology and its implications -- 3. The printing capacity of copper plates -- 4. The costs and profitability of new print production -- 5. Lettering, language and text -- 6. The print and the state : censorship, copyright, privileges, taxation and promotion -- 7. Copying prints -- 8. Reprinting plates and blocks -- 9. Colouring prints -- 10. Single sheets, pairs, sets and oeuvres -- 11. Book illustration -- 12. The survival and loss of prints -- Pt. II. The European print trade -- 13. The European print trade 1550-1820 -- 14. The participants in the print trade -- 15. The printmaker -- 16. The painter and designer -- 17. The publisher : finance and production -- 18. The publisher : distribution -- 19. Patronage and subsidized publication -- 20. Non-commercial State and private publication -- 21. The printseller -- 22. Marketing, advertising and subscriptions -- 23. The buyer -- 24. Cheap prints and the itinerant trade -- Pt. III. The use and understanding of the print -- 25. The variety of the print -- 26. The display and the storage of prints -- 27. Print collecting -- 28. The knowledge and literature of prints -- 29. The understanding and usage of the print in the art world -- 31. The hierarchy of the techniques of printmaking -- Coda -- 31. The print since 1820.
For four centuries the only way to print a pictorial image in Western Europe was by cutting a woodblock or engraving a copper plate by hand. These images were the essential adjunct to Gutenberg's invention of movable type in the 1440s. Making them demanded new skills and personnel, and created a new industry that employed thousands of men and women in many complementary roles. Their products covered a huge range, from blank forms, toys and almanacs to religious images, portraits and works of art of the highest sophistication. By 1550 the new technology had bedded down and it remained very stable for several centuries. A man of 1550 could have walked into a printing shop of 1820 and understood what was going on. During the nineteenth century this world was displaced by new technologies, of which photography was by far the most important, and the old printmaking industry is now only remembered by historians. This book provides an 'anatomy' of this industry during its period of greatest flourishing. It describes how engravers, artists, publishers and distributors worked together to produce objects that were bought by every section of society. At the top of the market were engravers with astonishing skills, and the works that they produced were eagerly collected by a new breed of connoisseur who paid high prices and demanded novelty and rarity. At the bottom was the cheap print, distributed in huge numbers by pedlars around the whole of Europe and beyond to the Americas. The book discusses the relationship of prints to drawings and paintings, the information that was available about them, how people kept and stored them, and the nature of the connoisseurship that was devoted to them. The 31 chapters draw on a wide range of sources to give an account of this world in a way that has never been done before. Fascinating and accessible, it will interest all students and scholars of art and history, and will also reward the general reader and anyone interested in these often astonishing and frequently misunderstood works of human creativity.