Arches Printmaking Paper – Like gold for any artist
Arches printmaking paper – Like gold for any artist
The vast majority of printmaking artists are well aware of this paper but in this post, we reveal some curiosities about this historical brand.
Let’s start in … 1492! 😉
This was a historic year, memorable for the discovery of America by Christopher Colombus and the founding of the ARCHES® paper mill. Very quickly, this paper became the preferred medium of artists and men of letters throughout history.
This mill provided the paper for the famous Nüremberg Chronicle, an incunable illustrated by Dürer and published in 1493, in the earliest days of printing.
In 1775, Beaumarchais acquired the Arches Mill and founded the “Société des Auteurs Compositeurs Dramatiques” (Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers). He devoted seven years to publishing the complete works of Voltaire, printing 28,000 copies of this famous edition, requiring 70 tonnes of paper.
This gentleman made numerous technical improvements to the Arches Mill and contributed to spreading its commercial reach into neighboring countries.
The Imprimerie Impériale, commissioned by Napoleon I to print the “Description de l’Egypte”, ordered 2 million sheets of paper from the Arches mill for the letterpress printing and intaglio engravings for this publication. These sheets of exceptional quality are all the more remarkable because their sizes do not exist anywhere else. Created especially, they were named “Eléphant“, “Grand Monde” and “Grande Egypte“, and the sheets bore a special watermark with the words “Egypte Ancienne et moderne“.
Very low deformation, resistance to scratching, outstanding color rendering and transparency as well as excellent conservation over time were, and still are, the main characteristics of this magnificent paper. From this period on, this became the reference paper for the majority of artists and acquired a worldwide reputation.
By 1830 they were already selling part of its products in Munich and Stuttgart in Germany and were supplying paper for the Imagerie d’Épinal, the famous picture printing works owned by the Pellerin family.
A first-class paper!
During the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1855, ARCHES® won first-class medals for its products, deemed superior in all respects, including pulp purity and beauty, uniformity, good sizing and finish. In 1859, Morel “saved” the Arches paper mill, the last large vat paper mill in the Vosges, when he won an enormous 9-year contract with the stamp-issuing authority.
In 1860 Morel went into partnership with his nephew Bercioux and began to rebuild his factory on the site it still occupies. He spared no effort and by 1865 he had 27 vats compared to just 5 in 1859.
Then, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, a painter who was extremely sensitive to materials and curious to try out many different drawing and watercolor techniques on paper, inspired the brand and at 1869 the paper mill began to produce a prestigious high-quality paper, better suited to the expectations of artists of the time, a laid paper it named Ingres d’ARCHES MBM® (MBM being initials of the mill’s owners: Morel, Bercioux and Masure). Ingres’s name continues to be linked to the making of this paper to this day.
And it was in 1895 that Jules Perrigot developed his own vat-paper machine and ARCHES® began industrial paper production. The cylinder mold gradually replaced manual papermaking and steam was used to accelerate drying.
The brand specialized in making paper for banknotes, safety papers and commercial handmade papers (papers for luxury publishing, intaglio engraving, writing papers, and correspondence cards, papers for line drawing and wash techniques, special papers such as the paper for geographical maps). At that time, 90% of luxury limited edition publications were produced with their paper.
In 1897 in Brussels and in 1900 in Paris, the Arches paper mill received 2 Grand Prizes for its “Velin” line, wash and watercolor drawing papers.
In 1956, four competing paper mills merged (Arches, Johannot, Marais and Rives) and the first French papermaking group, ARJOMARI, was born.
Quality paper sent into space!
They’ve really perfected the extra-long conservation of its papers.
Now imagine 250 works printed on Velin d’ARCHES® with intaglio engravings being sent into space on board the American shuttle Discovery in 1990.
We think that’s TOP! 🙂
If you are interested in acquiring this precious paper, click here.
You can also visit the official website of this magnificent brand:
You can get to know a little more about printmaking paper here.
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