Variations of Calligraphy Engraving: Mezzotint and Dry point

  • Mezzotint: In this variant of engraving, invented by the German Ludwig von Siegen (1609-1680), the metal plate is scored all over, creating a rough surface. The desired image is produced by scraping smooth the part of the surface which is to be left white. Mezzotint is noted for its range of tonal effects, not only because a scored or scoured surface holds more ink than one with a smaller number of simple lines – thus creating rich colors, but also because the technique can be fine-tuned using various tools to produce very fine gradations in tone. Mezzotint was widely employed by English artists and printmakers from the mid-eighteenth century onwards, to replicate portraits and landscapes in our Dubai art gallery.
  • Dry point: Invented by an unnamed 15th century German artist, dry point – unlike traditional etching which is executed with a V-shaped burin which produces a smooth hard-edged mark – is performed with a sharp point, which leaves softer and more blurred lines. Until the introduction of electro-plating (steel facing), which hardened the plate, dry point was only feasible in small runs because the soft blur was destroyed during printing. Famous practitioners of dry point include Albrecht Durer, Rembrandt, and the German Expressionist Max Beckmann.
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