what is a painter-printmaker?

Or painter-engraver, or in French, peintre-graveur—

This term comes from the latter part of the 19th century and differentiates between images created by “commercial” artists for mass reproduction and commercial uses, and images created by artists working from a fine arts perspective for purposes of artistic expression.  At this time, the techniques and tools of printmaking were predominantly used by commercial artists for printing ephemera (like the handcut wood engravings in the old Sears catalogs). Recognizing the expressive potential of printmaking, fine artists revived and experimented with its many techniques as they pursued their own ideas. They created original prints in limited editions (small numbers) sometimes printed by themselves, and often with assistance from expert printers. They called themselves painter-printmakers.

Paul_Gauguin_-_Manao_Tupapau_(The_SpiColor woodcut by Paul Gauguin, relief print.

Mary Cassatt dpt, aqau, Nat Gal

Mary Cassatt wood cut Nat Gal

Intaglio prints by Mary Cassatt, combining drypoint (outlines and hair) and color etching (aquatint). Note the plate marks left by the intaglio press around the images.


Lithograph by Pablo Picasso, called a bleed print because the image “bleeds” to the edges of the paper. This image was painted with tusche, a greasy liquid medium, and brush on a litho stone; the image was stabilized with acid and talc before printing.




Monotypes by Edgar Degas, drawn and painted with ink and oil paint directly onto the plate surface. Note the plate marks visible in the top 2 images. Degas’ monotypes are often misidentified as oil paintings or pastel drawings.