Chiaroscuro watermark

This sheet of handmade paper comes from the Fabriano Paper Mill in Milan. In regular light, it looks like a blank sheet but when you hold it to the light, the watermark becomes visible. The image, which is a reproduction of Gentile da Fabriano’s “Coronation of the Virgin,” comes from the variations in thinness or thickness in the paper.

The watermark begins with the Italian artisan Annarita Librari carving the engraving in wax; a process that may take from five months to a year to complete. Copper dies (positive & negative) are made from the wax sculpture. The dies are pressed into a brass screen, which will form the papermaking mould. Then, tiny wads of screen must be stuffed and stitched invisibly into the mould as reinforcements in all the cavities, such as the forehead or cheeks.

We are fortunate to have acquired two examples of Ms. Librari’s work, one of which is seen here. To see Gentile da Fabriano’s original tempera and gold leaf panel, see:

Light-and-shade watermark depicting the “Coronation of the Virgin” by the Renaissance painter Gentile da Fabriano (Milan, Fabriano Paper Mill, 2006). Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process.