International studio — 61.1917

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The Art of the Colour-print

■ A HE decorative significance of the
artistic colour-print has a charm of
its own. For this the artist conceives
his design from the first in terms of
colour, and plans his engraving to that end.
His work must not be confused with that in-
artistic thing the coloured line-etching.
The woodcut was the medium used for the

a few years ago by Mr. Laurence Binyon in the
British Museum, were done probably between
1660 and 1670, and are typical of the pictorial
feeling among that wonderful people for the
loveliness of fruit, flowers, birds, and butter-
flies. Exquisitely artistic in motive, their per-
fection of technique is so extraordinary that
it is impossible they can have been experi-
mental work. It is rather the consummation
of development that these unique examples
show. You shall find in them delicate colour-

earliest attempts at printing in colours. The
chiaroscuro, a print of two or more tones from

gradation, obtained doubtless by the printer
blending the tints on the wood-blocks, with

separate blocks, was the pioneer of the colour-
print about 1508, but the first actual colour-
prints we may date some twelve years later.
In an extremely rare print by Hans Weiditz, of
Augsburg, six colours and the black outline

peaches more crimson at the tips and greener
at the bases, and apples subtly varied in tone,
and as innocent of outlines as they would be
in nature. In fact there seems little we know
to-day about the craft of colour-printing that

were printed from a series
of separate blocks, gold
being one of the colours
used. In the most famous
example of German Re-
naissance colour - printing,
Albert Altdorfer’s The
Beautiful Virgin of Ratis-
bon, done in 1520, five
colours, besides the black,
were printed : crimson,
pink, brown, green, and a
slaty blue.
The technical method of
these prints is in principle
the same as that employed
in its perfection by the
Chinese in the seventeenth
century, and probably
earlier, for they had
printed fabrics from co-
loured wood - blocks cer-
tainly in the eighth and
ninth centuries, and pos-
sibly before then. By a
long time, therefore, they
anticipated the Japanese
in discovering that the
wood-block was a perfectly
trustworthy medium for
obtaining purity as well
as fullness and variety of
colour in printing. Those
twenty-nine wonderful
Chinese prints, discovered



LXI. No. 243.—May 1917

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