Each print an original
Pictures can have a magical effect, transporting us into new worlds and filling each room with life and atmosphere.
All our prints are individually coloured and manually printed. Each print is therefore an original. Our motifs originate in different periods and represent different styles, but all of them were considered worthy of preservation on a copper plate. We still use these original engravings in our copper printing press today.
The Franz Hanfstaengl Publishing Company
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Franz Hanfstaengl was a well-known German portraitist and lithographer. In 1833, he founded the “Lithographische Anstalt Franz Hanfstaengl” and began to extend his activities across Europe. Over the years he expanded into the field of fine art printing and also opened a studio for photography. In 1893, the king of Bavaria granted Hanfstaengl’s publishing company the right to be named “Königlich Bairische Kunstanstalt”. From 1910 onwards, many famous artists – among them Carl Josef Bauer, Kurt Meyer-Eberhardt, Karl Ewald Olszewski – had their original etchings printed and published by Hanfstaengl. Up to 1980, the publishing company was run solely by the Hanfstaengl family.
In 1980 Peter Blanc took over the copper-plate printing section from the Hanfstaengl family and felt obliged to continue in the tradition of this renowned publishing house. In 2016 York von Schultzendorff took over the company. The printing process still remains the same. The intensity of the colours and the vibrant quality of hand-pulled copper prints are unique. With each individual work for our clients we hope to pass on the pleasures of this old-established art of printing.
1804 - 1877
The technique of printing hand-pulled copper prints, which is regarded as one of the finest techniques in printing, has remained practically unchanged since the 16th century. It is very time-consuming and requires from the printer both a high level of aesthetic sensitivity as well as proven handicraft skills. All our etchings, copper gravures and heliogravures are hand-pulled prints. Franz Hanfstaengl contributed significantly to the development of heliogravures, produced by engraving the image – in this case a photograph – into the plate by means of a complicated and extremely difficult handicraft process. The possibility to produce plates of high artistic value from photographs enabled him to enlarge his collection by using pictures of well-known painters.
The inking process
Each colour is individually blended and carefully applied to the copper plate with a brush and a roller. It is then wiped off by the printer with wide-meshed gauze balls, quite often using fingers and the ball of the thumb. A good printing result depends to a large extent on the aesthetic sensitivity of the printer. This is particularly true in the case of etchings which have been etched by the artist directly on the copper plate.
The printing process
The print is created by pressing the paper into the inked plate with a pressure of around 16 tons. Preceding this step, the heavy handmade paper is soaked with water so that it can absorb the ink from the impressions of the plate like a sponge. Thus the image is transported from the plate to the paper. As each print is pulled only once, the results always vary a little. Before starting the next printing process the plate has to be carefully re-inked and cleaned.
Drying and polishing
Once the paper is dry the prints are polished for two days in the screw press. This special press, produced 150 years ago by the Krause company, works with a pressure of 24 tons and thus gives our hand-pulled prints their final form.
To show all the details as perfectly as possible, the print is then coloured by hand with water-colours, carefully applied with a brush. As in the days of Dürer, each single print is pulled by hand in our modern handicraft atelier. This is the only way to preserve the treasures of this old-established art of printing.
Animals & Hunting
The naturalistic dry-point-etchings of local and African animals and hunting scenes produced by the painter and etcher Kurt Meyer-Eberhardt are a central part of our printing programme. From 1917 onwards, he worked with Franz Hanfstaengl’s publishing company and bequeathed his original copper plates to him. Our printer, Franz Duchatsch, still pulls his etchings in the way he learned it from the artist himself.
The “Corpus Imaginum” is a unique portrait gallery. For many decades, Franz Hanfstaengl collected more than 900 portraits – drawings, etchings, lithographs and photographs – and took pictures of them. Sometimes he was offered very rare portraits which had been in the property of families for a long time, without being aware of their value. From 1855 onwards, many photographs were taken especially for the Corpus Imaginum collection since Franz Hanfstaengl was by that time a renowned photographer. Famous composers and musicians such as Beethoven, Schubert and Liszt, poets and writers such as Goethe, Schiller and Fontane, scientists and researchers such as Einstein, Leibniz and Erasmus von Rotterdam, military men and statesmen and many other famous personalities are part of the Corpus Imaginum collection.
Not only men are enchanted when they see a beautiful woman. For artists of all times it has been a tempting challenge to reproduce female charm in an artistic work, especially to draw or paint male and female nudes. We are particularly proud to own the unique etchings of beautiful women produced by Carl Josef Bauer who studied at the Munich Academy under Professors Diez and Jank and participated in the exhibition at the Munich Glass Palace. Most of his etchings were produced around 1920 and later in Art Deco style.
Towns & landscapes
It is always interesting to see how our towns and landscapes looked like in former times and to what degree they have preserved their characteristics up to the present day. Thanks to artists like Giuseppe Vasi and Jan de Visscher we can still admire these motifs in their works. But also at the beginning of the 20th century, artists such as Professor Paul Geissler and Wilhelm Scholz etched characteristic buildings, town-quarters and landscapes from all over Germany on copper plates.