Woodcut or woodblock printing is the oldest form of printmaking, which uses an incised woodblock to transfer a design from the woodblock to another surface. Linocut, lino printing, or linoleum art is a variant of woodblock printmaking in which a sheet of linoleum is mounted on a woodblock and the desired design is incised into the linoleum surface. Linoleum printing emerged out of desire for a cleaner print. In woodblock printing, directional grain and splitting of the wood during the carving process made woodblock printing more challenging. Both are forms of relief printing techniques in which some areas of the design are raised, while the recessed areas are not.
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I am so happy to have found Mearto. Their team of seasoned professionals provide a wealth of knowledge in tandem with excellent customer care. They provided an expert valuation and advised me sell a painting that I purchased for just $10 at an estate sale for nearly $1,000 on eBay. I have used them on several occasions and have been extremely pleased every time.
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I used the Mearto authentication service to develop a history of a family owned piece with little to no provenance, except being owned by my family for 65 years. They came back with a 20 page extensive report and included a full page bibliography for reference. The “Stylistic Observations” section of the report was most enlightening comparing my piece to the original, which was on public display in the 1940’s.
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The authentication report we received from Mearto was very well researched and written, as well as detailed and comprehensive. From an examination of the artist's signature to a discussion of the figural representations in the work, Mearto's art specialists took the time to explain in non-technical terms their findings. Professional, responsive, and kind are just a few words to describe their communication throughout the process-- definitely money well spent!
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Woodcut and linocut prints are made in the same way: by incising the surface with a sharpened tool. In woodblock printing, the block is usually made of pearwood and is seasoned to reduce the retention of moisture, which reduces cracking and warping. It’s important to note that the image incised on the block will create a mirror image on the final surface, so designs are often incised backwards on the block. Ink is then rolled onto the surface of the block and then the block is placed ink-side down onto the final surface. The size of the block, in both techniques, depends on the size of the desired resulting image. In the case of woodblock printing, multiple blocks are often used for a larger design since smaller wooden blocks are less likely to crack.
When identifying a quality print, it is important to first assess the overall physical condition of the print. Is the impression of the design complete? What is the condition of the paper (foxing, discoloration, tears, fading)? Look for a watermark or signature. Value of the print can also be influenced by the number of the print if the individual was a part of a series. This will be indicated at the bottom of the print and appear as a fraction indicating the number of the print out of the total number in the series. The denominator (or total number in the print run) will indicate that the artist destroys the plate after the total number of prints has been pulled, ensuring that no more prints from this particular plate can be pulled again. The greater the number of prints, available of the particular image, the less valuable the individual print becomes.