Large Jug is a screenprint made at Kelpra Studio, a fine art print workshop in London. It was published in an edition of eighty with fourteen proofs by Waddington Graphics, London; Tate’s copy is number seventy-three in the edition. It is signed by the artist and inscribed with the edition number below the lower right corner of the background set in a broad white margin. The initials ‘WG’, standing for Waddington Graphics, and ‘K’, the mark of Kelpra Studio, are embossed into the paper in the same corner.
Large Jug depicts a large stoneware jug, its form simply delineated by a thick black outline. This, and the fact that the jug and the background are rendered in exactly the same unmodulated colour, in this case a muted dark grey, were characteristic features of Caulfield’s earlier work of the 1960s. After the profusion of imagery which typified his work of the 1970s, he returned at the beginning of the 1980s to the more economical, reduced manner demonstrated in this print, with its concentration on simplified form and strong outline. Mel Gooding, writing in the catalogue raisonné of Caulfield’s prints published by the Alan Cristea Gallery in 1999, described such images as ‘beauties of graphic economy’ (Gooding, p.14).
In Large Jug the play of light on the surface of the pot is rendered by a large area of white, which also serves to suggest the space created by the handle of the jug. There is no attempt at realism either in this depiction of light or in the black shadow cast by the jug, the pointed shape of which echoes the highlighted area. Large Jug followed on from a set of four, slightly smaller screenprints which Caulfield produced in 1981–2 (P78305–P78307, P07755). These also picture similar vessels, their three-dimensionality suggested rather than depicted, through the use of black outlines and areas of pale-coloured highlights. The lower part of each jug is rendered in a darker colour, helping to describe their rounded form. Writing about this particular set of prints, Gooding remarked how ‘the now-familiar technique of merging the colour of the spatial background with the colour of the object is brought to new heights of stylish sophistication’ in ‘these brilliant decorative images, which manage to be at once capricious and monumental’ (Gooding, p.15).
Patrick Caulfield made his first print, Ruins (P04076), in 1964 at Kelpra Studio, the fine art print workshop established by master printer Chris Prater in the late 1950s. Having chosen the medium of screenprinting for its ability to create immaculately flat areas of bright, saturated colour, Caulfield continued to collaborate with Prater and, from the late 1960s, with Chris Betambeau and later Bob Saich at Advanced Graphics. He produced prints regularly throughout his career, until 1999 when he made Les Demoiselles d’Avignon vues de Derrière (P78309), an homage to Pablo Picasso’s great painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon 1907 (Museum of Modern Art, New York). For Caulfield, printmaking was a parallel activity to his painting, allowing him to explore the same subject matter and artistic concerns, as he explained:
Because I’m such a slow producer of paintings, I regard printmaking as a way of extending the kind of imagery that concerns me, because of its multiplication in editions. I don’t think of a print as very different to a painting, because I make a painting for each print in more or less detail. I’m not really a printmaker at all. I provide an image and then it’s printed by professional printers. It’s a relief to see this work under way.
(Quoted in Livingstone, p.31.)
Marco Livingstone, Patrick Caulfield: Paintings, London 2005.
Mel Gooding, Patrick Caulfield: The Complete Prints 1964–1999, Alan Cristea Gallery, London 1999, reproduced no.69.