The Unfinished Print: 3 June to 7 October 2001

Circle of Mantegna, Italian, 15th Century
Virgin and Child in a Grotto, c. 1475/1480
engraving
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection 1943.3.1329

Making a print typically entails working up a copperplate or a woodblock in stages and taking readings of the image in progress. Such impressions are usually termed "proof states," although this example was taken from a plate that, as far as we know, was never actually completed. The fact that it was eventually printed and distributed testifies to the celebrity granted Mantegna by later generations.

Every intentional alteration of a plate is conventionally designated as a separate state. This is indicated by Roman numerals. For example, "state i/vii" identifies the first of seven known states. When no state is indicated it means this is the only one recorded, or that the evidence of surviving impressions is insufficient to make a clear determination.

Copyright ©2001 National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
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