Term applied to any of the identifiable stages through which a print has passed as an artist creates or alters the design. The first state is represented by the initial proof taken from the plate. If no alterations are made, this will also be the ‘only state’. Often, however, particularly in etching, the artist will alter the design several times before reaching the final state; several impressions may be taken from the printing surface each time it is altered, but sometimes only a unique impression may exist. Differences in states may be so subtle that experts can disagree as to whether they are in fact intentional or are simply the result of chance or wearing of the plate. Some of Rembrandt's etchings, however, exist in radically different states involving a major rethinking of the design.