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What does 'after' denote on a print title?

Marc Chagall, The Magic Flight, (L'Envolée Magique), lithograph, 1981

Sometimes you will note that a lithograph in our collection includes the parenthesis ‘after’ an artist’s name, as in the example from our collection here: (after) Marc Chagall, The Magic Flight, (L'Envolée Magique), lithograph, 1981.

Chagall’s exceptional career as a lithographer was greatly facilitated by his extensive artistic collaboration with Charles Sorlier, master-printmaker at the Atelier Mourlot, Paris. He in turn worked closely with Andre Maeght, owner of Galérie Maeght, who published Derriére le Miroir, in which many of the works were published.

After creating a composition, Chagall trusted Sorlier to retouch his lithographic stones and provide approval of quality. So familiar did Sorlier became with Chagall’s work – and Chagall became so confident of Sorlier’s talent – that Sorlier created a number of prints in a style “after” Chagall, i.e. interpretive designs of Chagall’s original paintings and gouaches.

Many other artists produced “after” prints in this manner as well, such as Georges Braque and Fernand Legér, both artists who are also collected by Modern Originals. They issued works that were made by the same professional printmakers that they worked with to produce their “original” editions.

In Braque’s case, he collaborated with the printers throughout the process of making; he chose each image and which technique to use, directed the lithographer or engraver, and corrected and approved the proofs. By hand-signing the edition he authorised production of the work.

In Leger’s work, these “after” prints reproduced prominent, large colour paintings from earlier in the artist’s career –created before they had begun to utilise color printmaking techniques, and generally, from the mid-20th Century on – and were championed by print publishers as a means of extending the artists’ commercial output. Leger's works are authenticated by the artist actually signing them ‘in the stone’ before printing.

In other cases, the “after” prints were created by well-known artists. Jacques Villon, for instance, made many prints after artists such as Matisse and Picasso.

To find out more come and meet us and see our collection at our home and store, Slade House in Somerset, UK.

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