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What is so special about a lithograph?

We've been collecting original, museum quality lithographs by 20th Century artists such as Joan Miro, Salvador Dali and Henri Matisse for the past couple of decades. Most of the works in our collection were designed and made by the artists themselves in direct collaboration with the Paris master printmaker Aimé Maeght following the Second World War, giving greater access to original art to the wider public at a time of great austerity. They are generally in unsigned limited editions of between 250-2,000, making them eminently affordable, then and today. Sometimes they are 'signed in the stone' which adds to their value. Where they are described as 'after' the artist', the printmaker's hand has actively generated the work, but always with the authority of the artist. This term is also used where a lithograph has been made as a handprinted copy of an original artwork, in the case of an artist like Fernand Leger, for example.

Usually lithographs are produced using artist quality pigments rather than standard printing inks, usually onto vellum or arches watercolour paper, which ensures their quality. Creating a lithograph involves drawing with greasy artists' quality crayons or a liquid called tusche, on a polished slab of limestone or aluminium plates. The term is derived from the Greek words for stone, “litho” and drawing, “graph”. They should retain their colour and quality for 100 years+ so long as they cared for correctly.

Our extensive collection shows off the process at its most sophisticated and intricate in examples by Marc Chagall and Georges Braque, and at its most bold and colourful in works by Alexander Calder and Joan Miro, who were leading exponents of the medium.

As time passes these lithographs become more rare and their value increases, ensuring they provide lifetime creative and quantifiable value.


This video from the Khan Academy shows the process in intricate detail.

For more information or to view our collection live, please contact us. We show some of our pieces at our shop and gallery at Slade House, Langport, Somerset TA10 9PW, UK. Do drop by to find out more.

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