How to Recognize a Lithograph

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Lithography stone with image.
Lithography stone with image.

Lithographs are prints of an original work of art produced via lithography. Lithography is the process of making prints using an image drawn on stone using a grease pencil. Then, ink with an oil base is applied to the image. Water is washed over the areas without ink to keep it from smearing. A piece of paper containing a high cotton count in addition to the wood is pressed against the stone to reproduce the image. There are ways to distinguish a true authentic handmade lithograph from the fine reproductions. mass-produced today.

Look for the artists mark. True handmade lithographs are individually signed by the artist using his unique mark. Mechanical prints are printed too fast and the quantity too large to mark individually.

Find the production mark. Real handmade lithographs are always marked with a fraction. the first number tells the order in which the lithograph was printed. The second number tells how many lithographs were made. For example, 3/45 means that this lithograph is the third one made of the 45 lithographs created.

Feel the paper. Lithograph paper is heavier than regular writing paper. It also has a fibrous look and feel.

Turn over the print. Look for signs of the press that was applied to create the lithograph. Feel this area if possible.

Inspect the ink. In a lithograph, the ink will sit on the paper. Mechanical prints have ink that is integrated into the paper and thus undetectable through touch or by looking. So, run your fingers gently over the image. You should feel the ink if the print is a true lithograph.

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