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Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss, 1702-1789) after Jean-Antoine Watteau (French, 1684-1721), Le Chat Malade (The Sick Cat), 1731, etching on paper, image: 15 ¼ x 10 7/8 inches, sheet: 16 x 11 ½ inches, Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center, University of Richmond Museums, Museum purchase with funds from the Louis S. Booth Arts Fund, H2009.07.04
Oct 16, 2012
throughApr 01, 2012

Idea to Image: Process, States, and Proofs from the Print Collection

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The University of Richmond Museums presents Idea to Image: Process, States, and Proofs from the Print Collection, on view from October 16, 2011, to April 1, 2012, in the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art. The exhibition examines the many steps and processes artists often employ to execute a final print. Featuring a wide range of print methods from woodcuts to etchings to lithographs to collagraphs that span the seventeenth to the twenty-first century, this exhibition explores how the artist arrives at the final print. It includes sketches, drawings, printing plates, states, and trial proofs that document the image’s journey from initial concept to completed work and reveals both subtle and drastic changes that often occur along the way. Connoisseurship issues are featured by including comparisons of prints on different papers, from different editions, and even attempts to mislead the viewer concerning the real creator of the print. Highlighted in the exhibition are works by John Taylor Arms (American, 1887-1953), Peggy Bacon (American, 1895-1987), Félix Hilaire Buhot (French, 1847-1898), Honoré Daumier (French, 1808-1879), Francisco de Goya (Spanish, 1746-1828), William Hogarth (British, 1697-1784), Kenneth Hayes Miller (American, 1876-1952), Jean-Antoine Watteau (French, 1684-1721), and many more selections by other artists from the print collection.
About the Exhibition

The drawings of Peggy Bacon (American, 1895-1987) reveal how she used her sketches as source material for her prints. In the drawing Nymph (1931), Bacon, who usually began her process by doing a series of drawings, focused her efforts on capturing the pose of the woman (possibly a self-portrait) as she copies a painting in the museum. Using the drawing as her reference, the final drypoint print, titled Nymph, (1931), shows how she has developed the image as she draws directly on the plate with the drypoint needle-like scribing tool. With Bacon’s wonderful sense of humor, the print shows a richly toned figure intently copying Titian’s 1538 painting Venus di Urbino in a gallery of Florence’s Uffizi Gallery.

The two states of the etching The Piazetta, Venice, by Donald Shaw MacLaughlan (American, 1876-1938), demonstrate how the artist can radically change his mind as he works on the image. In the first state, printed in brown ink, a figure is placed in the extreme foreground. In the second state, printed in black ink, that figure is gone and the artist has introduced more shading to increase the sense of depth and atmosphere of the plaza. The final print is drastically modified in the process.

While the works of both Bacon and MacLaughlan in the exhibition focus on the artists’ decisions while creating a print, the lithographs of Honoré Daumier reveal that he had government censorship to consider when making his prints. After the French government passed laws censoring the press in 1835, artists and publishers alike had to modify the process of publication to avoid heavy fines and jail time. Mariez vous donc…En Chine (1844) from the series, Voyage en Chine (1843-45), shows that Daumier printed a proof of the completed narrative design. He attached the proposed wording, handwritten on a separate sheet of paper, to the proof. The second version of the print includes the text as approved by the government’s censor. Afterwards, the image and approved text were printed in the French illustrated newspaper, Le Charivari (1832-1937). The three prints are included in the exhibition.

This exhibition was organized by the University of Richmond Museums and curated by Richard Waller, Executive Director, University Museums, with Jackie Clary, ’12, art history major, University of Richmond, and 2011 Harnett Summer Research Fellow, University Museums.

Past Programming
Friday, November 18, 2011, 2 to 6 p.m.
2 to 4 p.m., Harnett Museum of Art
Connoisseurship: Looking at Old Master Prints
with James Goodfriend, C & J Goodfriend Drawings and Prints, New York
4 to 6 p.m., Benefit Print Sale, Harnett Print Study Center
Idea to Image: Process, States, and Proofs from the Print Collection