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

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  • David Austen, 'Crocodile' date not known

    David Austen
    Crocodile date not known
    Etching on paper
    image: 175 x 126 mm
    Presented by Enitharmon Press 1996 David Austen, courtesy Anthony Reynolds London/ courtesy Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh

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  • Robert Adam, 'Romantic Castle' date not known

    Robert Adam
    Romantic Castle date not known
    Pen and ink, watercolour wash and gouache on paper
    support: 245 x 308 mm
    Purchased as part of the Opp Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

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  • Joseph Mallord William Turner, 'Lago Agnano and Grotto del Cane, with View of the Gulf of Naples, with Vesuvius and Capua [Turner] in Distance' 1819

    Joseph Mallord William Turner
    Lago Agnano and Grotto del Cane, with View of the Gulf of Naples, with Vesuvius and Capua [Turner] in Distance 1819
    Pencil on paper
    support: 116 x 187 mm
    Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

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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.