Art Term

Paper

Paper is made from matted plant fibres made into sheet form either by hand (traditional) or machine (modern) and used by artists as a surface for drawing, watercolour or printmaking

David Austen
Crocodile
Tate
© David Austen, courtesy Anthony Reynolds London/ courtesy Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh
Robert Adam
Romantic Castle
Tate
Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘Part of a View from the Camaldoli Hill, with Lake Agnano and the Gulf of Pozzuoli’ 1819
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Part of a View from the Camaldoli Hill, with Lake Agnano and the Gulf of Pozzuoli 1819
Tate

Handmade paper was produced by drying pulp, produced from beating cotton or linen rags in water, on wire trays. The lines of thinner paper produced by these wires are visible in ‘laid’ paper. ‘Wove’ paper, developed in the mid eighteenth century, is made from trays with a tightly-woven wire mesh which leave a smoother surface and no visible lines. Artists use both handmade and machine made paper, although handmade is often used for printmaking.

Paper is traditionally said to have been invented in China in the second century AD, but was not made in Europe until the twelfth century.