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Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs
Introduction to the Collections
The Print Collection of The New York Public Library houses a substantial collection of original prints, illustrated books, a small collection of drawings, and a reference collection on the subject of prints, printmaking and book illustration.
The reference resources in the Prints and Photographs Study Room include catalogues raisonnés of printmakers’ work, ephemera files, monographs, periodicals and exhibition catalogues covering the history of printmaking, printmakers, printers and publishers, book illustration, the history of caricature, and artists’ books. There are also technical manuals of the various fine art printmaking techniques, from woodcuts to digital processes. Also on hand are price guides and bibliographies for prints.
This guide offers a selection of bibliographic and online resources for researching prints and printmakers, as well as indications of how to determine what prints are in the Library’s collections. All classmarks are for Print Collection copies, unless otherwise noted. Print Collection materials must be requested, and viewed in the Prints and Photographs Study Room (Room 308).
Literature on works in other media, including drawings and posters, is found in the Art and Architecture Collection. Photographs and the history of photography are covered by the Photography Collection.
It should be noted that original prints are located throughout the diverse collections of the four NYPL Research Libraries, for example in the Arents Collection, the Berg Collection and Pforzheimer Collection in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library; the Photographs and Prints Division of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and the Dance Collection, Music Collection, and Theatre Collection of the Library for Performing Arts. While some of these collections are catalogued in CATNYP, it is advisable to contact the individual divisions for more information on their holdings.
Please consult the librarians and specialists in the Prints and Photographs Study Room, Room 308, if you need further assistance in your research. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may also e-mail the staff.
Using the Library’s Catalogs
The Print Collection’s reference books are catalogued in the online catalogue of the Research Libraries, CATNYP, which is available on the World Wide Web via http://catnyp.nypl.org/. For general instructions on using CATNYP, please consult Using the Library’s Online Catalog.
For basic information on printmakers, the dictionaries of artists listed in the Art and Architecture Collection’s research guide, Art Research: Beginning Strategies (Benezit; Thieme-Becker, etc.), are a good place to start.
For catalogues raisonnés, a search under the printmaker’s name as author or as subject will find books on that printmaker.
To determine availability of print-related periodicals, many of which are housed in the Print Collection, consult CATNYP for as well as the Dictionary Catalog of the Prints Division (Boston, Mass., G. K. Hall & Co., 1975). Desk-Prints Div. 75-1240; Art and Architecture Division MAC+ 75-1241; check CATNYP for other copies.
The ephemera, or artists’ files are catalogued in unique files in the Prints and Photographs Study Room, Room 308. Those files created before 1971 are also indexed in the Dictionary Catalog of the Prints Division.
Reference material on the history of book illustration is collected by the Print Collection, and can be found by searching in CATNYP. The illustrated books themselves are housed throughout the Library’s reading rooms, including the Print Collection. Many of them are already catalogued in CATNYP, although for some specialized collections, such as the Arents, Berg, Pforzheimer and Spencer Collections, it is advisable to consult the individual divisions. For books catalogued in CATNYP, the electronic record will contain information on the location of the book.
Determining if a Print is in the Library’s Collection
The Print Collection’s original print holdings are catalogued in unique card files in the Prints and Photographs Study Room, Room 308. It is generally necessary to visit the Library or contact the staff of the Print Collection to find out whether a given print is in the collection. However, there are a few exceptions of online cataloguing and publications detailing selected portions of the Print Collection’s holdings. See also Finding Materials in the Collections.
Please consult Tips for Finding Prints and Other Graphic Materials in CATNYP for more information about locating the small number of prints that are catalogued online.
For books and articles detailing the holdings of the Print Collection,
see the Print Collection Bibliography.
Tips for finding prints and other graphic materials in CATNYP
Graphic materials throughout The New York Public Library’s Research Libraries, including a few limited selections from the Print Collection (see below), have been catalogued in CATNYP. To find these materials among the books and other formats, try the following:
Any resulting records will describe graphic materials. The Location will indicate where the items are within the library, i.e. “Humanities – Prints” for the Print Collection.
The Description will indicate number, technique, and overall size of the items. For most Print Collection records, individual titles are listed in the Contents field.
Some bound volumes of prints also appear in CATNYP.
However, because they have been catalogued as books, they do not turn up
under the limitation “Photographs, Prints, Graphics,” but rather
in a normal search by author, subject, title, etc.
Note: The majority of the Print Collection’s close to 200,000 prints are catalogued in unique files in the Prints and Photographs Study Room.
Print Collection Bibliography
For the first several decades of the twentieth century, Print Collection exhibitions and acquisitions were regularly reported in The Bulletin of the New York Public Library; see the Indexes for volumes 1-66. Items from the Print Collection are also regularly lent to the numerous special exhibitions held at the Library, some of which have published catalogues. Below is a list of the most comprehensive publications listing specific portions of the Print Collection.
Dictionary Catalog of the Prints Division (Boston, Mass., G. K. Hall & Co., 1975. Desk-Prints Div. 75-1240; Art and Architecture Division MAC+ 75-1241; check CATNYP for other copies. The very thorough original catalogue of the reference books, periodicals, ephemera files, and illustrated books in the Print Collection (formerly known as the Prints Division), current through 1971. Print-related articles from a variety of periodicals are also indexed here.
Subject-Specific Publications of the Print Collection
Deák, Gloria Gilda. Picturing America, 1497-1899: Prints, Maps, and Drawings Bearing on the New World Discoveries and on the Development of the Territory that is Now the United States. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988. Desk-Prints Div. 89-807; Desk-Prints Div. 89-808; Art and Architecture Division *R-Art 89-792; Map Division 89-30; U.S. History, Local History and Genealogy Desk-USLHG 89-1058 Shelf 18. The most up-to-date catalogue of The Phelps Stokes Collection of American Historical Prints; 880 entries incorporating also related material from other Library collections.
Finlay, Nancy. “Artists Look at The New York Public Library: A Portfolio of Drawings and Cartoons,” Biblion. The Bulletin of The New York Public Library, 3: 2, 94-108. General Research Division *R-*HND NYPL 96-1199; *HND NYPL 92-1277; see CATNYP for other copies. A selection from the Print Collection’s holdings of drawings, cartoons and prints depicting the Library, its site, building, and users between 1842 and 1990. This article was published on the occasion of the centennial of The New York Public Library in 1995.
Finlay, Nancy. “Reginald Marsh’s Sketchbook #4: An Artist at The New York Public Library,” Biblion. The Bulletin of The New York Public Library, 4: 2, 75-94. General Research Division *R-*HND NYPL 96-1199; *HND NYPL 92-1277; see CATNYP for other copies. Publication of a cache of drawings by this 20th-century American artist in the Print Collection, relating to Marsh’s research for a book of anatomical drawings (much of it carried out in The New York Public Library), as well as preparatory drawings for some of his prints in the Library’s collection.
Murase, Miyeko. Tales of Japan. Scrolls and Prints from The New York Public Library. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986. MDBV 86-1747; Asian and Middle Eastern Division *O-*OSM 01-7759. Catalogue to an exhibition of Japanese manuscripts from the Spencer Collection, and color woodcuts from the Print Collection.
Ruby, Louisa Wood. “Samuel Putnam Avery as a Collector of Drawings: A Complete Checklist from The New York Public Library’s Print Collection,” Biblion. The Bulletin of The New York Public Library, 9: 1/2, 104-147. General Research Division *R-*HND NYPL 96-1199; *HND NYPL 92-1277; see CATNYP for other copies. Complete listing of the drawings in the S.P. Avery collection, many of them relating directly to prints in the collection, and many presented to Avery by the artists.
Stokes, I.N. Phelps and Daniel C. Haskell. American historical prints, early views of American cities, etc., from the Phelps Stokes and other collections. New York, The New York Public Library, 1932. DESK-MDE NYPL; MDE NYPL; MDE p.v.8; General Research Division *RB-MDE NYPL; *HND NYPL *HND NYPL p.v.11. The earliest catalogue of The Phelps Stokes Collection; largely superseded by Gloria Deàk’s Picturing America (see above).
Treasures from the New York Public Library. New York: The New York Public Library, 1985. Desk-MDET 89-2045; General Research Division*HND NYPL 85-363; JFF 85-28 (and other copies; see CATNYP). Catalogue of an exhibition of notable objects from throughout the collections of The New York Public Library.
Treasures of the New York Public Library. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1988. Desk-MDET 89-2048; General Research Division *R-*HND+ NYPL 89-132; Pub. Cat. 89-172 Shelf 49. Catalogue to a second exhibition of notable objects from throughout the collections of The New York Public Library.
Weitenkampf, Frank. The Eno Collection of New York City views. New York: New York Public Library, 1925. DESK-MDE NYPL; MDE NYPL, and numerous copies throughout the Library’s reading rooms, check CATNYP. Checklist of this collection of some 500 prints recording the changing aspects of New York City throughout its history.
Williams, Sam P., et al. Guide to the Research Collections of the New York Public Library. Chicago: American Library Association, 1975. General Research Division *R-*HND 76-582; Pub. Cat. 76-583 Shelf 46; JNF 93-223, and numerous other copies throughout the Library’s reading rooms, check CATNYP. Provides information about all of the Research Libraries’ collections, permitting useful subject access and historical notes about the formation of the collections.
Visual Identification of Printmaking Processes
Artists for more than six centuries, from Dürer and Rembrandt to Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, have made prints, exploring the particular artistic possibilities of various printmaking media to create “multiple originals.” While an artist may utilize photomechanical processes in making a print, “print” as it is used here does not refer to a reproduction, but to a work of art which results from the artist’s interaction with and response to various printmaking media, among them, woodcut, etching, lithography, screenprint and now digital processes, which allow an image to be multiplied.
The Print Collection staff can assist in identifying a print and the printmaking process used as time allows. However, the Library staff cannot make statements of authenticity.
Gascoigne, Bamber. How to Identify Prints: A Complete Guide to Manual and Mechanical Processes from Woodcut to Ink Jet. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1986. Print Collection Desk MDI 87-2309. Illustrated guide to identifying both original and photo-reproductive processes, with a glossary of printmaking terms.
Griffiths, Antony. Prints and Printmaking. London: British Museum Publications, 1980; 2nd edition, 1996. MDB 87-576. Informative and readable survey of the history of printmaking, emphasizing visual identification of techniques and a glossary of terms.
Ivins. William. How Prints Look. Revised by Marjorie B. Cohn. Boston: Beacon Press, 1987. MDB 89-3216. Basic text on identifying the main printmaking media, with new annotated bibliography by Marjorie Cohn.
Interpreting Printed Inscriptions on Prints
“Words Below the Image: What They Say,” in Bamber Gascoigne, How to Identify Prints, A Complete Guide to Manual and Mechanical Processes from Woodcut to Ink Jet. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1986, pages 48 a,b,c. Print Collection Desk MDI 87-2309
“Abbreviations and Lettering,” in Antony Griffiths, Prints and Printmaking: An Introduction to the History and Techniques, London: British Museum Publications, 1980; 2nd edition, 1996, p. 133. MDB 87-576.
Delteil. Loys. Le peintre-graveur illustré. Paris: chez l’auteur, 1906-. Volumes 1-31. Desk MDD+ Delteil; reprint, Le peintre-graveur illustré; the graphic work of nineteenth and twentieth century artists, and illustrated catalog. New York: Collectors Editions, Ltd. Da Capo Press, 1969. MDD+ Delteil. Illustrated; vol. 32 includes an extensive glossary in four languages (French-English-German-Spanish).
Complete (or near-complete) listings of a printmakers’ body of work, oeuvre catalogues, or catalogues raisonnés as they are known, are often the best source of descriptive information on prints. Although there is not a catalogue raisonné for every artist who made prints, below are two sources for identifying those catalogues that have been published.
Riggs, Timothy. The Print Council Index to Oeuvre-Catalogues of Prints by European and American Artists. Millwood, New York: Kraus International Publications, 1983. MD-84-783. This comprehensive listing of catalogues raisonnés of printmakers was published by the Print Council of America. They now maintain an online version, which is periodically updated; see the print-related Selected Internet Resources.
Gordon’s Print Price Annual. New York: M. Gordon, 1978-. MDCF 79-1170. This resource is also available online in the Prints and Photographs Study Room, see the print-related Electronic Resources. A compilation of auction print prices, Gordon’s includes an index of catalogues raisonnés by artist, followed by full bibliographic entries arranged by author.
General Print Catalogues
The following is a selective list of standard general print catalogues, which contain listings of prints by groups of artists, often of a single nationality and period.
Many of these books were published before the widespread use of photomechanical illustration methods, and therefore do not include images of the prints listed; it is noted below whether illustrations are included or not. Call numbers are for reference works located in the Prints and Photographs Study Room.
Bartsch, Adam. Le peintre-graveur. Vienna: J.V. Degen, 1803-05. Dutch and Flemish engravers, volumes 1-5; German, volumes 6-11; Italian, volumes 12-21. Desk-MDD Bartsch; MDD Bartsch. Bartsch compiled the first broad-ranging catalogue of works by printmakers active before 1700, and remains the standard reference for many of the artists listed. As his title – “painter-engraver” -- suggests, his focus was on original as opposed to reproductive prints.
The Illustrated Bartsch. New York: Abaris Books, 1978-. MDD+ 80-258. Ongoing publication; an illustrated re-edition of Bartsch’s Peintre-graveur, sometimes with the addition of commentary volumes of more in-depth information, as well as supplementary volumes covering the work of artists not included in the original Bartsch.
Le Blanc, Charles. Manuel de l’Amateur d’Estampes 1550-1820. Paris, 1854-89. Desk-MDD Le Blanc; MDD Le Blanc. Reprint: Amsterdam: G.W. Hissink & Co., 1970-71. MDD Le Blanc. Using the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, Le Blanc attempted to list all prints produced during this broad period. Although it provides the most complete extant list of some less well-known artists’ work, the listings are generally incomplete.
Lehrs, Max. Geschichte und kritischer Katalog des deutschen, niederländischen und französischen Kupferstichs im XV. Jahrhundert. Vienna: Gesellschaft für vervielfältigende Kunst, 1908-34. MDN+ Lehrs. Catalogue of German, Netherlandish and French engravings from the first century of printmaking.
Schreiber, W.L. Manuel de l'amateur de la gravure sur bois et sur métal au XVe siècle. Berlin: A. Cohn, 1891-1911. MDB Schreiber and MDB++ Schreiber. Catalogue of woodcuts and metalcuts from the first century of printmaking; organized according to subject matter.
Catalogues of American Prints
Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs Division. American prints in the Library of Congress; a catalog of the collection. Compiled by Karen F. Beall and the staff of the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. With an introd. by Alan Fern and a foreword by Carl Zigrosser. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, . Desk-Prints Div. 72-295; MDBF US. Library of Congress. Provides a broad cross-section of American prints through the mid-20th century. Not by any means complete, as it is restricted to the collection of the Library of Congress, but nonetheless the most comprehensive published listing of the subject.
Peters, Harry. America on stone; the other printmakers to the American people; a chronicle of American lithography other than that of Currier & Ives …. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran and Company, Inc., 1931. MDP+ Peters; Print Room Reserve+ Peters, H. T. America on stone; Milstein Division IAG+ Peters.
Stauffer, Daniel McNeely. American Engravers upon Copper and Steel. New York, 1907, with Supplement published by Mantle Fielding, Philadelphia, 1917. MDDF Stauffer
Catalogues of Dutch and Flemish Prints
Hippert, T and J. Linnig. Le peintre-graveur hollandais et belge du XIXme siècle. Brussels: Olivier, 1874-79. MDDF Hippert and Linnig. Catalogue of prints by 19th-century Dutch and Belgian artists.
Hollstein, F.W.H. Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings, and Woodcuts, ca. 1450-1700. Amsterdam: M. Hertzberger, 1949-. MDDF Hollstein. Illustrated. Hollstein is the standard reference for Dutch and Flemish prints up to 1700. Early volumes were partially illustrated, and more recent volumes include fully illustrated catalogues of printmakers’ work. The publisher continues to update the earlier volumes in The New Hollstein. Since 1996, they have also published a number of specialized volumes in their series Studies in Prints and Printmaking.
The New Hollstein: Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings, and Woodcuts, 1450-1700. Roosendaal, The Netherlands: Koninklijke van Poll in co-operation with the Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, 1993-. MDDF Hollstein, Dutch. Illustrated.
Catalogues of French Prints
Baudicour, Prosper de. Le Peintre-Graveur Français Continué. Paris: Mme. Bouchard-Huzard, et Leipzig, R. Weigel, 1859-61. MDDF Baudicour. Continuation of the catalogue of prints by 17th-century French artists by Robert-Dumesnil into the 18th century.
Béraldi, Henri. Le Graveurs du Dix-Neuviéme Siècle: Guide de l’Amateur d’Estampes Modernes. Paris: L. Conquet, 1885-92. MDD Béraldi; Desk MDD Béraldi. Catalogue of prints by 19th-century French etchers, engravers and lithographers; not always complete, but the only source of information for some printmakers.
Delteil. Loys. Le peintre-graveur illustré. Paris: chez l’auteur, 1906-. Volumes 1-31. Desk MDD+ Delteil; reprint, Le Peintre-Graveur Illustré; the Graphic Work of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Artists, and Illustrated Catalog. New York: Collectors Editions, Ltd. Da Capo Press, 1969. MDD+ Delteil. Illustrated catalogue of prints by some 25 artist-printmakers of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Robert-Dumesnil, A.P.F. Peintre-Graveur Français. Paris, 1835-71. MDDF Baudicour. Catalogue of prints by French artists born in the 17th century.
Catalogues of German prints
Hollstein, F.W.H. German Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts, ca. 1400-1700. Amsterdam: M. Hertzberger, 1954-. MDDF Hollstein, German. Illustrated. Hollstein is the standard reference for German prints up to 1700. Some illustrations were included in the early volumes, and more recent volumes include fully illustrated catalogues of printmakers’ work. The publisher continues to update earlier volumes in The New Hollstein.
The New Hollstein: German Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts, 1400-1700. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sound & Vision Interactive, 1996. MDDF Hollstein, German. Illustrated.
General Histories of Prints
Griffiths, Antony. Prints and Printmaking. London: British Museum Publications, 1980; 2nd edition, 1996. MDB 87-576. Informative and readable survey of the history of printmaking.
Hults, Linda C. An Introductory History: The Print in the Western World. Madison, Wisconsin, London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1996. A comprehensive history of printmaking. Footnotes and references at the end of each chapter provide an excellent bibliography. MDB+ 96-15076
Mayor, A. Hyatt. Prints & People: A Social History of Printed Pictures. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1971. A remarkable, highly readable survey of the history of prints by A. Hyatt Mayor, former Curator of Prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. MDB 72-325; Print Room Desk 73-55; in General Research Division 3-MDB 89-16291
Platzker, David and Elizabeth Wyckoff. Hard Pressed: 600 Years of Prints and Process. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2000. Surveys the history of printmaking, focusing on the effects of technical advances by examining artists and works that expanded the boundaries of various printmaking media. MDB+ 01-2356; in General Research Division 3-MDR+ 01-3275
Periodicals and Ephemera Files
For articles on a particular artist, Art Index and a number of other specialized art bibliographies are available in electronic form at many workstations in the Library, including the Prints and Photographs Study Room; see the listing of Electronic Resources, or consult the full listing of Online Databases and Indexes. The full run of Art Index in its print version is located in the Art and Architecture Division, MAC Art Index; and see CATNYP for other locations. References to articles published through 1971 on printmakers and illustrators can also be found in the Dictionary Catalog of the Prints Division.
Major print-related periodicals are housed in the Prints and Photographs Study Room and can be located on CATNYP.
For artists who have never been the subject of a catalogue or an article, the Print Collection ephemera files (a.k.a. artists’ or clipping files) on printmakers may be helpful. They have been compiled since the opening of the Print Collection in 1900 and contain exhibition notices and brochures, reviews, obituaries and other related materials. Indexed in the Dictionary Catalog of the Prints Division through 1971, they are kept current and indexed in unique files in the Prints and Photographs Study Room.
A handful of publications in the Prints and Photographs Study Room record current print prices. The most frequently called for is Gordon’s Print Price Annual indexing auction prices, available in both print and online versions. The others listed here are useful because they cover different parts of the market, or specific categories of works.
Gordon's Print Price Annual. New York: Martin Gordon, 1978- . MDCF 78-1170 1978- . Annually updated listing of prices realized at international auctions of all categories of prints, including Old Master, contemporary, decorative, historical, sporting, topographical, natural history, botanical, and Japanese prints; posters, illustrated books, livres d' artiste, books and periodicals with original graphics, and Picasso ceramics. Also available in online format in the Prints and Photographs Study Room (Room 308). See Electronic Resources.
Lawrence's Dealer Print Prices. Phoenix, AZ: Gordon’s Art Reference, 1992- . MDCF 92-477. Annually updated listing of prices realized by art dealers for all categories of prints.
Printworld Directory of Contemporary Prints and Prices [Bala-Cynwyd, PA]: Printworld, 1982- . MDA 86-2457. Listings of prices for selected contemporary artists.
Gordon’s Print Price Annual provides international coverage of prints sold at auction from 1985 to the present. Almost 600,000 records, from old Master, modern, and contemporary fine prints to posters and illustrated books, as well as Picasso ceramic. Prices are given in dollars, pounds and currency of country of origin. Available in Room 308 and 300.
The following resources available in the Art and Architecture Collection, Room 300, can also be useful for print research. Consult the library-wide listing of Databases and Indexes Online for more information.
AMICO: Art Museum Image Consortium. AMICO is a collection of multimedia images and corresponding descriptive text of works of art contributed by art museums all over the world.
Art & Architecture Thesaurus. Available courtesy of The Getty Museum and the Getty Vocabulary Program, the AAT is a structured vocabulary of approximately 125,000 terms, scope notes, and other information used when describing fine art, architecture, decorative arts, archival materials, and material culture.
ARTbibliographies Modern covers 20th century art, design, and photography, citing periodicals, monographs, dissertations, and exhibition catalogs.
Art Full Text is a bibliographic database that indexes and abstracts articles from periodicals published throughout the world. Full-text coverage is included for selected periodicals, but not all.
Art Index & Art Index Retrospective indexes articles in periodicals, yearbooks, and museum publications, 1929-present.
Arts and Humanities Citation Index Search indexes articles and their citations from domestic and foreign journals in twenty-five arts and humanities disciplines, 1980-present.
Bibliography of the History of Art includes and extends the Répertoire d' Art et d' Archéologie from 1973 to 1989 and the International Repertory of the Literature of Art from 1975 to 1989. It covers European and American art from antiquity to the present.
Grove Dictionary of Art contains 41,000 entries and over 30,000 images, the online version of the Grove Dictionary of Art can be searched by heading, subheading, or free text.
Index to Nineteenth-Century American Art Periodicals covers 42 periodicals from 1840 to 1907. Indexing each entire issue it covers artists and illustrators, painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, collecting, exhibitions, sales, decoration and popular culture.
Nineteenth Century Art Worldwide. Published by the Association of Historians of Nineteenth-century Art, this scholarly, refereed e-journal, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, is devoted to the study of nineteenth-century painting, sculpture, graphic arts, photography, architecture, and decorative arts across the globe.
Selected Internet Resources