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Print Rooms

These institutions keep plates engraved by old masters and edit them for commercial use without the original quality. The paper used for prints edited by these centres usually boosts a water or stamp mark . To counter fraud, print rooms such as The Louvre’s have started engraving their anagram discretely in corners of their plates so that these modern re-editions may be recognized easily and dissipate any doubts as to origin.

The CALCOGRAFÍA NACIONAL of Madrid, founded by King Carlos III, started its activities on 29 April 1789 as a section of the Royal Print. Its immediate success is shown in the fact that in the year 1797 alone as many as 750,650 prints were pulled with its 8 printing presses. Despite ups and downs, it is still very active. Its main collection is formed by Goya’s as well as Fortuny’s printing plates. It regularly organizes exhibitions of old and modern prints, publishes work by modern engravers, and sells prints struck from the museum’s collection of plates to visitors.

The CALCOGRAFÍA NAZIONALE of Rome has about 20,000 plates in custody and was founded by Pope Clemens XII in 1738 with the name Calcografía Camerale, taking as its starting point the copper plates of the De Rossi family. In 1871 it was incorporated into the Italian kingdom. It keeps work by such artists as Raimondi, Salvator Rosa, Piranesi --of whom a total of 1180 were acquired in Paris in 1839-- and Giorgio Morandi.
The CHALCOGRAPHIE DU MUSÉE DU LOUVRE was founded by Colbert in 1660 with the objective of starting a printer's workshop for King Louis XIV, so that the name of Print Room was not given until 1787. The main part of its collection was formed by the Cabinet du Roí (Royal Cabinet) and the Académie Royale de Peinture (Royal Academy of Painting) collections, which were initially placed in the custody of the Print Room pertaining to the Bibliothéque Nationale (National Library) but would later form part of the Louvre Museum. And here they remain, offering a wide range of art work to visitors. As well as selling large decorative pieces and work by such old masters as Van Dyck and Callot, the museum offers prints by contemporary artists such as Matisse, Arp, Manet, Degas, Dufy and Villon for sale. In fact, these re-editions suffer from a problem common to all print rooms, which is that print quality and number have not always been strictly controlled.


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