1902 Encyclopedia > Engraving


ENGRAVING. The verb engrave is an old French word adopted by the English language, in which it bears at the present day but one signification, that of marking by incision. In old English the word was used in other senses, with which we need not now trouble the reader, and the verb engraver in modern French, used for a boat when she runs her keel into the beach or for a cart when its wheels stick in the mud of a road or the sand of a river, is a different word, being derived from grève, the sands of sea or river, which comes from the Provencal grava, the bed of a torrent, and is nearly related to the English gravel. Our English verb to engrave belongs to a large family of words in many Western languages, the Anglo-Saxon form grafan being remarkable for its similarity to the Greek ypáfaiv. Littré affirms that the Latin words scribere and serobs are also etymologically related to the verb graver, and it is evident that there is a close connection between scrobs, a furrow, and the hollow cuttings produced by an engraver with his tools. The grave in which the dead are buried is also connected with these words both by its meaning and its etymology. The idea of a furrow or cutting is essential to engraving, much more essential than any artistic idea. The rudest mark which is cut into the substance of anything is really an engraving, whilst the most admirable drawing which does not cut into the surface is not engraving at all. When Old Mortality deepened the inscriptions on the tombstones of the Covenanters he was strictly doing engraver's work, though of a coarse kind. In like manner the peoples of remote antiquity who chiselled their writing and drawing on slabs of stone, were in the strictest sense engravers, though the connection between their rude performance and the refined workman-ship which is bestowed on a modern vignette may not at first sight be very obvious. On the other hand, a lithograph is not an engraving, neither is a photograph, nor a photographic autotype; but the applications of photography which are known as heliogravure and photogravure are really engraving, because in these processes the surface of the metal plate is eaten into or lowered. For the same reason etching may be correctly included under the generic term engraving, and an etcher is called in French a graveur a Veauforte, an engraver by means of acid.

Definition. Engraving may then be defined as writing or drawing in which the marks are produced by removing a portion of the substance on which the writing or drawing is made, instead of by simply staining or discolouring it as ink and lead pencil do, or covering it with an opaque or transparent pigment as in oil-painting.

The idea of multiplication by printing, or by casting (as in seal engraving), is a mere accidental suggestion and not an essential part of the art. Engraving preceded printing, and is still much used without any connection with printing, as in the chased ornamentation of silver plate, fire-arms, jewellery, and other objects of luxury.

It is our intention, in the present article, to confine ourselves strictly to engraving as one of the fine arts. Its present position is almost universally secondary to paint-ing. The engraver, in the fine arts, is almost invariably occupied in translating the works of painters, as by his intervention they can afterwards, at least in translation, be widely disseminated by the press. Principal There are several different varieties of engraving, the varieties cnief 0f which are—(1) Line engraving on metal plates, cfe°' usually of copper or steel, in which the line is always graving. jncjge(j . ^) Etching, usually on metal, in which the lines are corroded by means of acid ; (3) Mezzotint, in which there are no lines whatever, but only shades produced by roughening the surface of the metal; and. (4) Woodcut, in which the lines which print black have to be left in relief, whilst the surface round them is cut away.
These primary technical conditions have an irresistible influence even upon the mental qualities exhibited in the different kinds of engraving. Each kind is favourable to certain mental states, and unfavourable to others, each being in itself an artistic as well as a technical discipline. A line engraver will not see or think like an etcher, nor an etcher like an engraver in mezzotint; and the consequence of this difference is that the manner in which a line has to be cut has a great influence in determining the direction of artistic taste and feeling. Nor is this influence confined to the engravers themselves. The enormous multiplication of their works by printing makes engravers only second to writers in their power over public taste, which they can refine or vitiate by spreading refined or vulgar interpretations of pictures. I'ugrav- There is no inherent reason why engraving should be ijjg inde- use(j on"|y t0 translate painting. The early engravers were of"aint °^ten original artists who worked out designs of their own, but in course of time a commercial reason prevailed over originality. It was found that a well-known picture assured the sale of an engraving from it beforehand, whareas an engraving which stood entirely on its own merits came into the world without advantages, and had its own way to make. Besides this, the engraver who copied a picture saved himself all the trouble of thinking out and composing the design, which he found ready to his hand. The same reasons have prevailed against original etching in our own day. There has been a great revival of etching during the last fifteen or twenty years, especially on the Continent, and many artists have acquired very great skill in this mode of engraving. It was hoped, at first, that they would employ their skill upon original works, but the convenience, both of publishers and etchers, soon led them to employ etching, as engraving had been employed before, almost exclusively in translating pictures. We cannot but deplore this subordination of engraving to painting; and when we recur to the great engravers of past times who composed and invented their own works, it is with a feel-ing of regret that they have left so very few successors.

Although we mentioned the four chief kinds of engrav-ing in the order of what is usually considered to be their relative importance, putting line engraving in the first place and woodcut in the last, this is not the chronological order of their discovery. Woodcut is the oldest kind of engrav-ing from which impressions were printed, and must there-fore be taken first in a paper of this kind, which proposes to deal only with engraving for the press.

Wood Engraving.

It is natural that wood engraving should have occurred first to the primitive mind, because the manner in which woodcuts are printed is the most obvious of all the kinds of printing. If a block of wood is inked with a greasy ink and then pressed on a piece of paper, the ink from the block will be transferred at once to the paper, on which we shall have a black patch exactly the size and shape of the inked surface. Now, suppose that the simple Chinese who first discovered this was ingenious enough to go a step further, it would evidently occur to him that if one of the elaborate signs, each of which in his own language stood for a word, were drawn upon the block of wood, in reverse, and then the whole of the white wool sufficiently cut away to leave the sign in relief, an image of it might be taken on origin of the paper much more quickly than the sign could be copied wood en-with a camel-hair brush and Indian ink. No sooner had S™™?-this experiment been tried and found to answer than block-printing was discovered, and from the printing of signs to the printing of rude images of things, exactly in the same manner, the step was so easy that it must have been made insensibly. Wood engraving, then, is really nothing but that primitive block-cutting which prepared for the printer the letters in relief now replaced by movable types, and the only difference between a delicate modern woodcut and the rude letters in the first printed books is a difference of artistic skill and knowledge. In Chinese and Japanese woodcuts we can still recognize traditions of treatment which come from the designing of their written characters. The main elements of a Chinese or a Japanese woodcut, uninfluenced by European example, are dashing or delicate outlines and markings of various thickness, exactly such as a clever writer with the brush would make with his Indian ink or vermilion. Often we get a perfectly black blot, ex-quisitely shaped and full of careful purpose, and these broad vigorous blacks are quite in harmony with the kind of printing for which wood engraving is intended.

The earliest European ______. It has not hitherto been satisfactorily ascertained whether wood engraving came to Europe from the East or was rediscovered by some European artificer. The precise date of the first European woodcut is also a matter of doubt, but here we have certain data which at least set limits to the possibility of error. European wood engraving dates certainly from the first quarter of the 15th century. It used to be believed that a cut of St Christopher, very rudely executed, and dated 1423, was the Adam of all our woodcuts, but subsequent investigations have shaken this theory. There is a cut in the Brussels library, of the Virgin and Child surrounded by four saints, which is dated 1418, but the composition is so very elegant and the drawing so refined and beautiful, that one has a difficulty in believing the date, though it is received as authentic. The Virgin and Child of the Paris library is without date, but is sup-posed, apparently with reason, to be earlier than either of the two we have mentioned; and M. Delaborde has proved that two cuts were printed in 1406. The Virgin and Child at Paris may be taken as a good representative specimen of very early European wood engraving. It is simple art, but not bad art. The forms are drawn in bold thick lines and the black blot is used with much effect in the hollows and recesses of the design. Beyond this there is no shading. Rude as the work is, the artist has expressed exquisite maternal tenderness in the pressure of the Virgin's cheek to that of the Child, whilst the attitude of the Child itself, with its foot in its hand and its arm round the mother's neck, is most true to nature, as is the pose of the other foot against the mother's arm, and also the baby-like bend-ing and twisting of the legs. The Virgin is crowned, and stands against a niche-like decoration with pinnacles as often seen in illuminated manuscripts. In the woodcut this architectural decoration is boldly but effectively drawn. Here, then, we have real art already, art in which appeared both vigour of style and tenderness of feeling.

The very earliest wood engraving consisted of outlines and white spaces with smaller black spaces, but shading is rare or absent. Before passing to shaded woodcuts we may mention a kind of wood engraving practised in the middle of the 15th century by a French engraver, often called Bernard Milnet, though his name is a matter of doubt, and by other engravers nearer the beginning of that century. This method is called the crible, a word for which there is no convenient translation in English. It means, riddled with small holes, as a target may be riddled with small shot. The effect of light and dark is produced in this kind of engraving by sinking a great number of round holes of different diameters in the substance of the wood, which, of course, all come white in the printing; it is, in short, a sort of stippling in white. When a more advanced kind of wood engraving had become prevalent the crible was no longer used for general purposes, but it was retained for the grounds of decorative wood engraving, being used occasionally in borders for pages, in printers' marks, and other designs, which were survivals in black and white of the ancient art of illuminating. Curiously enough, this kind of wood engraving, though long disused for purposes of art, has of late years been revived with ex-cellent effect for scientific purposes. It is now the accepted method of illustration for astronomical books. The black giveu by the untouched wooden block represents the night sky, and the holes, smaller or larger, represent in white the stars and planets of lesser or greater magnitude. The pro-cess is so perfectly adapted to this purpose, being so cheap, rapid, and simple, that it will probably never be superseded. The objections to it for artistic purposes are, however, so obvious that they were soon perceived even by the untrained critical faculty of the earlier workmen, who turned their attention to woodcut in simple black lines, in-cluding outline and shading. In early work the outline is firm and very distinct, being thicker in line than the shading, and in the shading the lines are simple, without cross-hatchings, as the workmen found it easier and more wooden- natural to take out a white line-like space between two graving, parallel or nearly parallel black lines than to cut out the twenty or thirty small white lozenges into which the same space would have been divided by cross-hatchings. The early work would also sometimes retain the simple black patch which we find in Japanese woodcuts, for example, in the Christmas Dancers of Wohlgemuth all the shoes are black patches, though there is no discrimination of local colour in anything else. A precise parallel to this treat-ment is to be found in a Japanese woodcut of the Wild Boar and Hare given by Aim6 Humbert in his book on Japan, in which the boar has a cap which is a perfectly black patch though all other local colour is omitted. The similarity of method between Wohlgemuth and the Japanese artist is so close that they both take pleasure in drawing thin black lines at a little distance from the patch and following its shape like a border. In course of time, as wood engravers became more expert, they were not so careful to spare themselves trouble and pains, and then cross-hatchings were introduced, but at first more as a variety to relieve the eye than as a common method of shading. In the 16th century a simple kind of wood engraving reached such a high degree of perfection that the best work of that time has never been surpassed in its own way. We intend very shortly to render full justice to the highly developed skill of modern wood engravers ; but it is undeniable that in the 16th century the art stood more on its own merits than it does now, respected itself more, and affirmed itself without imitating other arts.

Wood engraving in the 16th century was much more conventional than it is in the present day, and this very con-ventionalism enabled it to express what it had to express with greater decision and power. The wood engraver in those days was free from many difficult conditions which hamper his modern successor. He did not care in the least about aerial perspective, and nobody expected him to care about it; he did not trouble his mind about local colour, but generally omitted it, sometimes, however, giving it here and there, but only when it suited his fancy. As for light-and-shade, he shaded only when he wanted to give relief, but never worked out anything like a studied and balanced effect of light-and-shade, nor did he feel any responsibility about the matter. What he really cared for, and generally attained, was a firm, clear, simple kind of drawing, con-ventional in its indifference to the mystery of nature and to the poetic sentiment which comes to us from that mystery, but by no means indifferent to fact, of a decided and tangible kind. The wood engraving of the 16th century was a singularly positive art, as positive as carving; indeed, most of the famous woodcuts of that time might be translated into carved panels without much loss of char-acter. Their complete independence of pictorial conditions might be illustrated by many examples. In Diirer's Salu-tation the dark blue of the sky above the Alpine mountains is translated by dark shading, but so far is this piece of local colour from being carried out in the rest of the com-position that the important foreground figures, with their draperies, are shaded as if they were statues in plaster of Paris. Again, the sky itself is false in its shading, for it is without gradation, but the shading upon it has a purpose, which is to prevent the upper part of the composition from looking too empty, and the conventionalism of wood engraving was so accepted in those days that the artist could have recourse to this expedient in defiance alike of pictorial harmony and of natural truth. In Holbein's admirable series of small well-filled compositions, the Dance of Death, the firm and matter-of-fact drawing is accompanied by a sort of light-and-shade adopted simply for convenience, with as little reference to natural truth as might be expected in a stained-glass window. There is a most interesting series of little woodcuts drawn and engraved in the 16th century by J. Amman as illustrations of the different handicrafts and trades, and entitled The Baker, The Miller, The Butcher, and so on. Nothing is more striking in this valuable series than the remarkable closeness with which the artist observed everything in the nature of a hard fact, such as the shape of a hatchet or a spade; but he sees no mystery anywhere—he can draw leaves but not foliage, feathers but not plumage, locks but not hair, a hill but not a landscape. In the Witches' Kitchen, a woodcut by Baldung Griin of Strasburg, dated 1510, the steam rising from the pot is so hard that it has the appearance of two trunks of trees denuded of their bark, and makes a pendant in the composition to a real tree on the opposite side which does not look more substantial. The clouds of steam round about the jet are like puddings. Nor was this a personal deficiency in Baldung Grün. It was Dürer's own way of engraving clouds and vapour, and all the engravers of that time followed it. Their conceptions were much more those of a carver than those of a painter. Dürer actually did carve in high relief, and Griin's Witches' Kitchen might be carved in the same manner without loss; indeed it has the appear-ance of an alto-rilievo with the ground tinted darker than the carvings. When the engravers were rather draughts-men than carvers, their drawing was of a decorative character. For example, in the magnificent portrait of Christian III. of Denmark by Jacob Binck, one of the very finest examples of old wood engraving, the face and beard are drawn with few lines and very powerfully, but the costume is treated strictly as decoration, the lines of the patterns being all given, with as little shading as

Wood engrav-ing in the 16th century.
Dürer's Saluta-tion.
Holbein's Dance of Death.
Amman's handicrafts.
Baldung Grün.
Jacob Binck.

possible, and what shading there is is simple, without cross-hatching.

The perfection of simple wood engraving having been attained so early as the 16 th century, the art became extremely productive, and has been so ever since. During the 17th and 18th centuries it still remained a compara-tively severe and conventional form of art, because the workmen shaded as much as possible either with straight lines or simple curves, so that there was never much appearance of freedom. Modern wood engraving is quite a distinct art, being based on different principles, but between the two stands the work of an original genius, Bmvick. Bewick, who cannot be overlooked. He was born in 1753, and died in 1828. Although apprenticed to an engraver in 1767, he was never taught to draw, and got into ways and habits of his own which add to the originality of his work, though his defective training is always evident. His work is the more genuine from his habit of engraving his own designs, which left him perfect freedom of interpreta-tion, but the genuineness of it is not only of the kind which comes from independence of spirit, it is due also to his fidelity to the technical nature of the process, a fidelity very rare in the art. The reader will remember that in _wood engraving every cutting prints white, and every space left untouched prints black. Simple black lines are obtained by cutting out white lines or spaces between them, and crossed black lines have to be obtained by laboriously cutting out all the white lozenges between them. In Bewick's cuts white lines are abundant and are often crossed, but black lines are never crossed; he is also quite willing to utilize the black space, as the Japanese wood engravers, and Durer's master Wohlgemuth used to do. The side of the frying-pan in the vignette of the Cat and the Mouse is treated precisely on their principles, so precisely indeed that we have the line at the edge for a border. In the vignette of the Fisherman, at the end of the twentieth chapter of the Memoir, the space of dark shade under the bushes is left quite black, whilst the leaves and twigs, and the rod and line too, are all drawn in pure white lines. Bewick, indeed, was more careful in his adherence to the technical conditions of the art than any of the primitive woodcutters except those who worked in crible and who used white lines as well as their dots. Such a thing as a fishing-net is an excellent test of this disposition. In the interesting series by J. Amman illustrating the crafts and trades of the 16th century, there is a cut of a man fishing in a river, from a small punt, with a net. The net comes dark against the light surface of Amman the river, and Amman took the trouble to cut a white and lozenge for every mesh. Bewick, in one of his vignettes, Bewick, represents a fisherman mending his nets by the side of a stream. A long net is hung to dry on four upright sticks, but to avoid the trouble of cutting out the lozenges, Bewick artfully contrives his arrangement of light and shade so that the net shall be in light against a space of White black shade under some bushes. This permits him to cut lines. every string of the net in white, according to his practice of using the white line whenever he could. He used it with great ability in the scales of his fish, but this was simply from a regard to technical convenience, for when he engraved on metal he marked the scales of his fish by black lines. These may seem very trifling considerations to persons unacquainted with the fine arts, who may think that it can matter little whether a fishing-net is drawn in black lines or in white, but the fact is that the entire destiny of wood engraving has depended on preserving or rejecting the white line. Had it been generally accepted as it was by Bewick, original artists might have followed his example in engraving their own inventions, because then wood engraving would have been a natural and com-paratively rapid art; but since the black line has been preferred the art has become a handicraft, because original artists have not time to cut out thousands of little white spaces. The reader may at once realize for himself the tediousness of the process by comparing the ease with which one writes a page of manuscript with the labour which would be involved in cutting away, with perfect accuracy, every space, however minute, which the pen had not blackened with ink.

The two centuries in which wood engraving has developed Modern itself most remarkably are the 16th and the 19th. We™04™' have described the character of 16th century work, which SlavlnS-was easy, as the work of that time had a limited purpose and a settled character. It may not appear so easy to describe the various and unsettled work of our own time, but it is animated by a leading idea, which is universality. Wood engraving in the 19th century has no special character of its own, nothing like Bewick's work, which had a character derived from the nature of the process ; but on the other hand, the modern art is set to imitate every Its great kind of engraving and every kind of drawing. Thus we variety, have woodcuts that imitate line engraving, others that copy etching and even mezzotint, whilst others try to imitate the crumbling touch of charcoal or of chalk, or the wash of water-colour, or even the wash and the pen-line together. The art is put to all sorts of purposes; and though it is not and cannot be free, it is made to pretend to a freedom which the old masters would have rejected as an affectation. Bapid sketches are made on the block with the pen, and the modern wood engraver sets himself patiently to cut out all the spaces of white, in which case the engraver is in reality less free than his predecessor in the 16th century, though the result has a false appearance of liberty. The woodcut is like a polyglot who has learned to speak many other languages at the risk of forgetting his own. And, wonderful as may be its powers of imitation, it can only approximate to the arts which it imitates; it can never rival each of them on its own ground. It can convey the idea of etching or water-colour, but not their quality ; it can imitate the manner of a line engraver on steel, but it cannot give the delicacy of his lines. Whatever be the art which the wood engraver imitates, a practised eye sees at the first glance that the result is nothing but a woodcut. Therefore, although we may admire the supple-ness of an art which can assume so many transformations, it is certain that these transformations give little satisfaction to severe judges. We are bound, however, to acknowledge that in manual skill and in variety of resource modern wood engravers far excel their predecessors. A Belgian wood engraver, Stephane Pannemaker, exhibited at the Panne-Salon of 1876 a woodcut entitled La Baigneuse, which maker-astonished the art-world by the amazing perfection of its method, all the delicate modelling of a nude figure being rendered by simple modulations of unbroken line. Both English and French publications abound in striking proofs of skill. The modern art, as exhibited in these publica-tions, may be broadly divided into two sections, one depending upon line, in which case the black line of a pen sketch is carefully preserved, and the other depending upon tone, when the tones of a sketch with the brush are trans-lated by the wood engraver into shades obtained in his own way by the burin. The first of these methods requires extreme care, skill, and patience, but makes little demand upon the intelligence of the artist; the second leaves him more free to interpret, but he cannot do this rightly with-out understanding both tone and texture. The wood-cuts in Dore's Don Quixote are done by each method alternately, many of the designs having been sketched with a pen upon the block, whilst others are shaded with a brush in Indian ink and white, the latter being engraved by interpreting the shades of the brush. In the pen drawings the lines are Dore's, in the brush drawings the lines are the engraver's. In the night scenes M. Pisan has usually adopted Bewick's system of white lines, the block being left untouched in its blackness wherever the effect permitted. Modern English wood engraving shows to great advantage in such newspapers as the Illustrated London News and the Graphic, the best of their kind in the world, and also in vignettes for book illustration, which English artists usually execute with delicacy and taste. A certain standard of vignette engraving was reached by Mr Edmund Evans in Mr Birket Foster's edition of Cowper's Task, which is not likely to be surpassed, in its own way, either for delicacy of tone or for careful preservation of the drawing. An important extension of wood engraving in modern times has been d'je to the invention of compound blocks. Formerly a woodcut was limited in size to the dimensions of a block of boxwood cut across the grain, except in the primitive condition of the art, when commoner woods were used in the direction of the grain ; but in the present day many small blocks are fitted togther so as to form a single large one. They can be separated or joined together again at will, and it is this facility which has rendered possible the rapid production of large cuts for the newspapers, as many cutters work on the same subject at once, each taking his own section.

Process of modern wood engraving.

The process of modern wood engraving may be briefly described as follows. The surface of the block is lightly whitened with Chinese white so as to produce a light ' yellowish grey tint, and on this the artist draws either with a pen if the work is intended to be in line, or with a hard pointed pencil and a brush if it is intended to be in shade. If it is to be a line woodcut the cutter simply digs out the whites with a sharp burin or scalpel (he has these tools of various shapes and sizes), and that is all he has to do ; but if the drawing on the wood is shaded with a brush, then the cutter has to work upon the tones in such a manner that they will come relatively true in the printing. This is by no means easy, and the result is often a disappoint-ment, besides which the artist's drawing is destroyed in the process, so that it is now customary to have the block photographed before the engraver touches it, when the drawing is specially worth preserving. This was done for Mr Leighton's illustrations to Romola.

Copper and Steel Plate Engraving.

Engraving on plates of copper and steel is the converse of wood engraving in method. In line engraving it is the line itself which is hollowed, whereas in the woodcut, as we have seen, when the line is to print black it is left in relief, and only white spaces and white lines are hollowed. There was no difficulty about discovering the art of line engraving, which has been practised from the earliest ages. Prehis- The prehistoric Aztec hatchet given to Humboldt in Mexico toric en- was just as really and truly engraved as a modern copper-gravmg. piate with outlines after Flaxman or Thorwaldsen ; the Aztec engraving is of course ruder than the European, but it is the same art. The important discovery which made line engraving one of the multiplying arts was the discovery how to print an incised line, which would not occur to every one, and which in fact was hit upon at last by accident, and known for some time before its real utility was suspected. Line engraving in Europe does not owe its origin to the woodcut, but to the chasing on gold-smiths' work. If the reader will look at any article of jewellery in which the metal is ornamented with incised designs, he will there see the true origin of our precious Plate- Diirers and Marcantonios. The history of the first plate-printing, printing is as follows. The goldsmiths of Florence in the middle of the 15th century were in the habit of ornament-ing their works by means of engraving, after which they filled up the hollows produced by the burin with a black enamel made of silver, lead, and sulphur, the result being that the design was rendered much more visible by the opposition of the enamel and the metal. An engraved design filled up in this manner was called a niello, and our NiellL modern door-plates are really nielli also, for in them too the engraved lines are filled with black. The word comes from nigellum, and simply refers to the colour of the enamel. Whilst a niello was in progress the artist could not see it so well as if the enamel were already in the lines, and on the other hand, he did not like to put in the hard enamel prematurely, as when once it was set it could not easily be got out again. He therefore took a sulphur cast of his niello in progress, on a matrix of fine clay, and filled up the lines in the sulphur with lampblack, thus enabling himself to judge of the state of his engraving. At a later period it was discovered that a proof could be taken on damped paper by filling the engraved lines with a certain ink and wiping it off the surface of the plate, sufficient pressure being applied to make the paper go into the hollowed lines and fetch the ink out of them. This was the beginning of plate printing, but nobody at first suspected the artistic and commercial importance of the discovery. The niello engravers thought it a convenient way of proving their work, as it saved the trouble of the sulphur cast, but they saw no further into the future. They went on engraving nielli just the same to ornament plate and furniture ; nor was it until the next century that the new method of printing was carried out to its great and wonderful results. Even in our own day the full import-ance of it is only understood by persons who have made the fine arts a subject of special study. There are, however, certain differences between plate printing and Artistic block printing which affect the essentials of art. When import-paper is driven into a line so as to fetch the ink out of it, ™ce of the line may be of unimaginable fineness, it will print all panting, the same ; but when the paper is only pressed upon a raised line, the line must have some appreciable thickness, so that the wood engraving can never be so delicate as plate engraving. Again, not only does plate printing excel block printing in delicacy ; it excels it also in force and depth. There never was, and there will never be, a woodcut line having the power of a deep line in a plate, for in block printing the line is only a blackened surface of paper, whereas in plate printing it is a cast with an additional thick-ness of printing ink.

Having limited ourselves in this article to engraving for the press, we do not stay to enumerate the niello engravers, but pass at once to the art of line engraving for prints; and first let us describe the process, which is as simple in theory as it is difficult in practice. The most important of the tools used is the burin, which is a bar of steel with The one end fixed in a handle rather like a mushroom with one buria side cut away, the burin itself being shaped so that the cutting end of it when sharpened takes the form of a lozenge. Burins are made in many varieties to suit in-dividual tastes and the different uses to which they are applied, but most burins resemble each other in presenting the shape of a more or less elongated lozenge at the end where they are sharpened. The burin acts exactly like a plough : it makes a furrow and turns out a shaving of metal as the plough turns the soil of a field. The burin, however, is pushed while the plough is pulled, and this peculiar character of the burin as a pushed instrument at once establishes a wide separation between it and all the other instruments employed in the arts of design, such as pencils, brushes, pens, and etching needles. The manual difficulty which has to be overcome by the engraver is in making himself master of the burin, and in order to accomplish this he is obliged to go through a great deal of simply manual practice in cutting lines. The beginner learns to cut straight lines and curves of various degrees of depth, and to cross them so that the interstices may form squares, lozenges, triangles, &c. These exercises, after long practice, give a degree of manual skill which has been often misemployed in ingenious trifling, to the detriment of true artistic quality, so that laborious men have wasted their time in cutting patterns like woven wire, and carefully inserting a dot in the middle of every lozenge or square. Whilst avoiding this error, which has been the bane of engraving, the student should train his hand and eye by copying portions of good prints directly on the metal, as a modern engraver cannot work in ignorance of the language of his art, though he may employ it in his own way afterwards. It is, however, unfortunately true that set methods, which may be called the business of engraving, have a tendency to become much more predominant than in the sister art of painting, so that real originality expresses itself much less frequently with the burin than with the brush.

Elements The elements of engraving with the burin upon metal of burin will be best understood by an example of a very simple engrav- kjn(j as jn enaxavinn; of letters. The capital letter B metal, contains in itself the rudiments of an engraver's education. As at first drawn, before the blacks are inserted, this letter consists of two perpendicular straight lines and four curves, all the curves differing from each other. Suppose, then, that the engraver has to make a B, he will scratch these lines very lightly with a sharp point or style. The next thing is to cut out the blacks (not the whites, as in wood engraving), and this would be done with two different burins. The engraver would get his vertical black line by a powerful ploughing with the burin between his two preparatory first lines, and then take out some copper in the thickest parts of the two curves. This done he would then take a finer burin and work out the gradation from the thick line in the midst of the curve to the thin extremities which touch the perpendicular. When there is much gradation in a line the darker parts of it are often gradually ploughed out by returning to it over and over again. The hollows so produced are afterwards filled with printing ink, just as the hollows in a niello were filled with black enamel; the printing ink is wiped from the smooth surface of the copper, damped paper is laid upon it, and driven into the hollowed letter by the pressure of a rolling cylinder ; it fetches the ink out, and you have your letter B in intense black upon a white ground.

When the surface of a metal plate is sufficiently polished to be used for engraving, the slightest scratch upon it will print as a black line, the degree of blackness being propor-tioned to the depth of the scratch. Most readers of these pages will possess an engraved plate from which visiting cards are printed. Such a plate is a good example of some elementary principles of engraving. It contains thin lines and thick ones, and, a considerable variety of curves. An elaborate line engraving, if it is a pure line engraving and nothing else, will contain only these simple elements in different combinations, The real line engraver is always engraving a line more or less broad and deep in one direc-tion or another ; he has no other business than this.

We may now pass to the early Italian and early German prints, in which the line is used with such perfect simplicity of purpose that the methods of the artists are as legible as if we saw them actually at work.

The student may soon understand the spirit and technical Early quality of the earliest Italian engraving by giving his Ito-lian attention to a few of the series which used erroneously to lme 611 be called the Playing Cards of Mantegna. " The series," c says Professor Colvin, " consists of fifty pieces, divided into sets of ten each. Of these five sets, each is marked with an initial letter, A, B, C, D, E, and every print of the series carries besides an Arabic numeral, 1, 2, 3, up to 50. Only the numerical order, which shows how the series is meant to be arranged and studied, reverses the alphabetical order which corresponds with the respective dignity of the subject; thus Nos. 1-10 are lettered as class E, Nos. 11-20 as class D, and so on. This number, fifty, and this plan of subdivision by tens, are quite inconsistent with the supposed destination of the series as playing-cards; and so also are the subjects of the series. They represent a kind of encyclopaedia of knowledge, proceeding upwards from earthly to transcendental things,—first, the various orders and conditions of men; second, the nine muses and Apollo ; third, the seven liberal arts, with poetry, theology, and philosophy added to complete the group of ten ; fourth, the four cardinal and three theological virtues, with three singular personifications or geniuses added to complete ten —a genius of time, a genius of the sun, and a genius of cosmos, the world ; fifth, the planets, in their mythological, astrological, and astronomical signification, with the three outer spheres added to make up the ten—viz., the eighth, or sphere of the fixed stars, the Primum Mobile, or inclosing sphere, which by its rotation imparts rotation to the rest within, and the Prima Causa, or empyrean sphere, the unrevolving abiding place of Deity. The series is, therefore,

This difficulty has been overcome of late years by the perfection to which M. Amand Durand has brought the art of photographic engraving originally invented by Niepce, and now called heliogravure. By means of this a new plate can be produced from an impression of an old engraving without touching the print, and so perfect that the impres-sions yielded by the new plate can only be distinguished from old prints by an expert, and not always with certainty by him, so that they have to be marked on the back to prevent fraud. M. Amand Durand has made it his principal business to reproduce engravings by the old masters ; so that the provincial or colonial student may now possess in his own cabinet a selection of the best examples. One thing only it is necessary for him to bear in mind. There are two sorts of heliogravure,—that which prints like a copper-plate, and that which prints like a woodcut. Both are used for book illustration, and indiscriminately, so that the student will often meet with a plate-engraving which has been reproduced to print like a woodcut, and whenever he does so he ought not to pay the slightest attention to it, for no plate-engraving can ever be reproduced as a woodcut without the loss of its finest technical qualities. A plate so reproduced will no doubt retain its composition and expression, though even the ex-pression may often lose a little from the greater coarseness of the lines ; but all its quality as workmanship, all the delicacy of the manual art, is sacrificed, merely that it may be printed more cheaply. The student should therefore resolutely turn away from all typographic heliogravures after engraved plates, and confine his attention to those which are printed as the original plates were printed, a matter which he can easily ascertain for himself by seeing that there is a plate mark, the colourless mark produced by the edges of the plate upon the paper. M. Amand Durand has published many copies from engravings by dif-ferent old masters, including complete sets from the original works of Vandyke, Paul Potter, Claude, and Albert Dürer. Such reproductions as these are really available for purposes of study, but the quantity of different photographic processes invented of late years has inundated the market with the most various kinds of more or less defective reproductions, which the student ought carefully to avoid. And how-ever perfect the process may be, all reproductions on a reduced scale should be rejected at once by students, for the manner of working adopted by a true master depends always upon the scale of his en-graving. Dürer will put more into a large plate than into a little one ; and when a large plate by Dürer is reduced by a photographic process, the reduction, by its microscopic abundance of detail, conveys a false idea of Dürer's practice as an artist. The reductions of old engravings which are now so frequently used for book-illustrations are more injurious than helpful to any right appreciation of engraving. Reduction is good only when the artist worked with a view to it, as is now often done in drawings intended to be reproduced photographically with a foreseen diminution of scale.

as the most recent critics have called it, a moral and educational series, or instructive picture-book."

We have not space to enter into the controversy about the origin of these engravings. They are supposed to be Florentine ; they are certainly Italian; and their technical manner is called that of Baccio Baldini, of whose biography nothing is known. But if the history of these engravings is obscure, their style is as clear as a style can be. There is not room for a moment's doubt about the artist's con-i'eehni- ception of his art. In all these figures the outline is the oal prin- main thing, and next to that the lines which mark the ciples. leading folds of the drapery, lines quite classical in purity of form and severity of selection, and especially character-istic in this, that they are always really engraver's lines, such as may naturally be done with the burin, and they never imitate the freer line of the pencil or etching needle. As for shading, it is used in the greatest moderation with thin straight strokes of the burin, that never overpower the stronger organic lines of the design, Of chiaroscuro, in any complete sense, there is none. The sky behind the figures is represented by white paper, and the foreground is sometimes occupied by flat decorative engraving, much nearer in feeling to calligraphy than to modern painting. Sometimes there is a cast shadow, but it is not studied, and is only used to give relief. We may observe that in this early metal engraving the lines are often crossed in the shading, whereas in the earliest woodcuts they are not; the reason being that when lines are incised they can as easily be crossed as not, whereas, when they are reserved, the crossing involves much labour of a non-artistic kind. Here, then, we have pure line-engraving with the burin, that is, the engraving of the pure line patiently studied for its own beauty, and exhibited in an abstract manner, with care for natural form combined with inattention to the effects of nature. Even the forms, too, are idealized, especially in the cast of draperies, for the express purpose of exhibiting the line to better advantage. Such are the characteristics of those very early Italian engravings which were attributed erroneouslyto Mantegna. When we come to Man- Mantegna himself we find a style equally decided. Draw-tegna. ing and shading were for him two entirely distinct things. He did not draw and shade at the same time, as a modern chiaroscurist would, but he first got his outlines and the patterns on his dresses all very accurate and right, and then threw a veil of shading over them, and a very peculiar kind of shading it was, all the lines being straight and all the shading diagonal. This is the primitive method, its pecu-liarities being due, not to a learned self-restraint, but to a combination of natural genius with technical inexperience, which made the early Italians at once desire and discover the simplest and easiest methods. But whilst the Italians were shading with straight lines the Germans had begun to use curves, and as soon as the Italians saw good German work they abandoned their old stiff practice and tried to give to their burins something of the German suppleness. Early The characteristics of early metal engraving in Germany German are seen to perfection in Martin Schongauer and Albert ioTon" -Diirer, wno> tnough with striking differences, had many metal" points in common. Schongauer was the earlier artist of Sehon- the two, as he died in 1488; whilst the date of Diirer's gauer. death is 1528, just forty years later. Schongauer was therefore a whole generation before Dürer, yet scarcely inferior to him in the use of the burin, though Diirer has a much greater reputation, due in great measure to his singular imaginative powers. Schongauer is the first great German engraver who is known to us by name, but he was preceded by an unknown German master, whom we now call the master of 1466, who had Gothic notions of art (in strong contrast to the classicism of Baccio Baldini), but used the burin skilfully in his own way, conceiving of line and shade as separate elements, yet shading with an, evident desire to follow the form of the thing shaded, and with lines in various directions. Schongauer's art is a great stride in advance, and we find in him an evident . pleasure in the bold use of the burin. Outline and shade, in Schongauer, are not nearly so much separated as in Baccio Baldini, and the shading, generally in curved lines, is far more masterly than the straight shading of Mantegna. Diirer continued Schongauer's curved shading, with in- Diirer. creasing manual delicacy and skill; and as he found him-self able to perform feats with the burin which amused both himself and his buyers, he over-loaded his plates with quantities of living and inanimate objects, each of which he finished with as much care as if it were the most important thing in the composition. The engravers of those days had no conception of any necessity for subordi-nating one part of their work to another ; they drew, like children, first one object and then another object, and so on until the plate was furnished from top to bottom and from the left side to the right. Here, of course, is an element of facility in primitive art which is denied to the modern artist. In Diirer all objects are on the same plane. In his St Hubert, the stag is quietly standing on the horse's back, with one hoof on the saddle, and the kneeling knight looks as if he were tapping the horse on the nose. Diirer seems to have perceived the mistake about the stag, for he put a tree between us and the animal to correct it, but the stag is on the horse's back nevertheless. This ignorance of the laws of effect is least visible and obtrusive in plates which have no landscape distances, such as The Coat of Arms with the Death's Head and The Coat of Arms with the Cock. Diirer's great manual skill and close observation made him a wonderful engraver of objects taken separately. He saw and rendered all objects; nothing His mi-escaped him ; he applied the same intensity of study to muteness, everything. Though a thorough student of the nude (witness his Adam and Eve, and other plates), he would pay just as much attention to the creases of a gaiter as to the development of a muscle; and though man was his main subject, he would study dogs with equal care (see the five dogs in the St Hubert), or even pigs (see the Prodigal Son); and at a time when landscape painting was unknown he studied every chimp of trees, every visible trunk and branch, nay, every foreground plant, and each leaf of it separately. In his buildings he saw every brick like a bricklayer, and every joint in the woodwork like a carpenter. The immense variety of the objects which he engraved was a training in suppleness of hand. His lines go in every direction, and are made to render both the undulations of surfaces (see the plane in the Melancholia) and their texture (see the granular texture of the stones in the same print).
From Diirer we come to Italy again, through Marc Marc-antonio, who copied Diirer, translating more than sixty of antonio. his woodcuts upon metal. It is one of the most remark-able things in the history of art, that a man who had trained himself by copying northern work, little removed from pure Gothicism, should have become soon after-wards the great engraver of Baphael, who was much pleased with his work and aided him by personal advice. Yet, although Raphael was a painter, and Marcantonio his interpreter, the reader is not to infer that engraving had as yet subordinated itself to painting. Baphael him- Ra-self evidently considered engraving a distinct art, for he never once set Marcantonio to work from a picture, but always (much more judiciously) gave him drawings, which the engraver might interpret without going outside of his own art; consequently Marcantonio's works are always genuine engravings, and are never pictorial. Marcantonio was an engraver of remarkable power. In him the real

the early Italian manner in his backgrounds, where its simplicity gives a desirable sobriety : but his figures are boldly modelled in curved lines, crossing each other in the darker shades, but left single in the passages from dark to light, and breaking away in fine dots as they apptoach the light itself, which is of pure white paper. A school of engraving was thus founded by Raphael, through Marcantonio, which cast aside the minute details of the early schools for a broad, harmonious treatment.

We cannot here give a detailed account of the northern and southern schools of line-engraving, which, after Durer and Marcantonio, developed themselves with gceat rapidity and were ennobled by many famous names, but although we cannot give lists of these, we may direct the student to a school of engraving which marked a new development, the group known as the engravers of Rubens. That great painter understood the importance of engraving as a means of increasing his fame and wealth, and directed Vorster-man and others, as Raphael had directed Marcantonio. The theory of engraving at that time was that it ought not to render accurately the local colour of painting, which would appear wanting in harmony when dissociated from the hues of the picture; and it was one of the anxieties of Rubens so to direct his engravers that the result might be a line plate independently of what he had painted. To this end he helped his engravers by drawings, in which he sometimes went so far as to indicate what he thought the best direction for the lines, Rubens liked Vorster-man's work, and scarcely corrected it, a plate he especially approved being Susannah and the Elders, which is a learned piece of work well modelled, and shaded everywhere on the figures aud costumes with fine curved lines, the straight line being reserved for the masonry. Vorstermau quitted Rubens after executing fourteen important plates, and was succeeded by Paul Pontius, then a youth of twenty, who went on engraving from Rubens with increasing skill until the painter's death. Boetius a Bolswert engraved from Rubens towards the close of his life, and his brother Schelte a Bolswert engraved more than sixty compositions from Rubens, of the most varied character, including hunting scenes and landscapes. This brings us to the engraving of landscape as a separate study. Rubens treated landscape in a very broad comprehensive manner, and Schelte's way of engraving it was also broad and comprehensive. The lines are long aud often undulating, the cross hatchings bold aud rather obtrusive, for they often substitute unpleasant reticulations for the refinement and mystery of nature, but it was a beginning, and a vigorous beginning. The technical developments of engraving under the influence of Bubens may be summed up briefly as follows :—1. The Italian outline had been discarded as the chief subject of attention, and modelling had been substituted for it; 2. Broad masses had been substituted for the minutely finished detail of the northern schools; 3. A system of light and dark had been adopted which was not pictorial, but belonged especially to engraving, which it rendered (in the opinion of Rubens) more harmonious.

The history of line-engraving, from the time of Rubens to the beginning of the 19th century, is rather that of the vigorous and energetic application of principles already accepted than any new development. From the two sources we have already indicated, the school of Baphael and the school of Rubens, a double tradition flowed to England aud France, where it mingled and directed English and French practice. The first influence on English line-engraving was Flemish, and came from Rubens through Vandyke, Vorsterman, and others ; but the English engravers soon underwent French and Italian influences, for although Payne learned from a Fleming,

Faithorne studied in France under the direction of Philippe de Champagne the painter, and Robert Nanteuil the engraver. Sir Robert Strange studied in France under Philippe Lebas, and then five years in Italy, where he saturated his mind with Italian art. French engravers came to stay and work in England as they went to study in Italy, so that the art of engraving became in the 18th century a cosmopolitan language. In figure-engraving the outline was less and less insisted upon. Strange made it his study to soften and lose the outline. Meanwhile, the great classical Renaissance school, with Gerard Audran at its head, had carried forward the art of model-ling with the burin, and had arrived at great perfection of a sober and dignified kind. Audran was very productive in the latter half of the 17th century, and died in 1703, after a life of severe self-direction in labour, the best external influence he underwent being that of the painter Nicolas Poussin. He made his work more rapid by the use of etching, but kept it entirely subordinate to the work of the burin. One of the finest of his large plates is St John Baptizing, from Poussin, with groups of dignified figures in the foreground and a background of grand classical landscape, all executed with the most thorough knowledge according to the ideas of that time. The influence of Claude Lorrain on the engraving of landscape was exercised less through his etchings than his pictures, which compelled the engravers to study delicate distinctions in the values of light and dark. In this way, through Woollet and Vivares, Claude exercised an influence on landscape engraving almost equal to that of Raphael and Rubens on the engraving of the figure, though he did not, like those painters, direct his engravers personally.

In the 19th century line-engraving has received both an impulse and a check, which by many is thought to be its death blow. The impulse came from the growth of public wealth, the increasing interest in art and the increase in the commerce of art, which now, by means of of engraving, penetrated into the homes of the middle classes, as well as from the growing demand for illustrated books, which have given employment to engravers of first-rate ability. The check to line-engraving has come from the desire for cheaper and more rapid methods, a desire satisfied in various ways, but especially by etching and by the various kinds of photography. Nevertheless, the 19th century has produced most highly accomplished work in line-engraving, both in the figure and in landscape. Its characteristics, in comparison with the work of other centuries, are chiefly a more thorough and delicate rendering of local colour, light and shade, and texture. The elder engravers could draw as correctly as the moderns, but they either neglected these elements or admitted them sparingly, as opposed to the spirit of their art. If you look at a modern engraving from Landseer, you will see the blackness of a gentleman's boots (local colour), the soft roughness of his coat (texture), and the exact value in light and dark of his face and costume against the cloudy sky. Nay more, you will find every sparkle on bit, boot, and stirrup. Modern painting pays more attention to texture andchiaroscurothan classical paint-ing did, so engraving has followed in the same directions^ But there is a certain sameness in pure line-engraving which is more favourable to some forms and textures than to others. This sameness of line-engraving, and its costli-ness, have led to the adoption of mixed methods, which are extremely prevalent in modern commercial prints from popular artists. In the well-known prints from Rosa Bouheur, for example, by T. Landseer, H. T. Ryall, and C. G. Lewis, the tone of the skies is got by machine-ruling, and so is much undertone in the landscape; the fur of the animals is all etched, and so are the foreground plants.

Turner's influence upon en-graving.




Prepara-tion of the plate.
Etching ground.

Bosse's ground.

Covering the plate.

the real burin work being used sparingly where most favourable to texture. Even in the exquisite engravings after Turner, by Cooke, Goodall, Wallis, Miller, Willmore, and others, who reached a. degree of delicacy in light and shade far surpassing the work of the old masters, the engravers have recourse to etching, finishing with the burin and dry point. Turner's name may be added to those of Eaphael, Rubens, and Claude in the list of painters who have had a special influence upon engraving. The speciality of Turner's influence was in the direction of delicacy of tone. In this respect the Turner vignettes to Roger's poems were a high-water mark of human attain-ment, not likely ever to be surpassed.

Pure line-engraving is still practised by a few artists in England and France. In England, Mr Jeens is a direct de-scendant of the great line engravers, and will take high rank in the future by the perfection of his drawing and the good taste with which he has used the burin in shading. In France, the lovers of line-engraving have endeavoured to keep it alive by organizing themselves into a society for its encouragement. The most recent direction of the art, in the works of Ferdinand Gaillard, is a return to studied outline, but in combination with the most elaborate modelling. In his St Sebastian the outline is studied and marked with careful firmness throughout, and the modelling is thoroughly worked out in minute touches and fine lines, giving powerful relief without any but the most delicate chiaroscuro.


We mentioned etching amongst the causes which have operated destructively on line-engraving. The chief difference between the two arts is that in line-engraving the furrow is produced by the ploughing of the burin, whereas in etching the copper is eaten away by acid. The English word is merely an Anglicized form of the Dutch etsen, which has the same origin as our verb to eat, con-sequently, unless there is corrosion, or eating away of substance, there is no etching. The word is vulgarly and most erroneously used for pen drawing.

To prepare a plate for etching it is first covered with etching-ground, a composition which resists acid. The qualities of a ground are to be so adhesive that it will not quit the copper when a small quantity is left isolated between lines, yet not so adhesive that the etching point cannot easily and entirely remove it ; at the same time a good ground will be hard enough to bear the hand upon it, or a sheet of paper, yet not so hard as to be brittle. The best is that of Abraham Bosse, which is composed as follows :—Melt two ounces of white wax; then add to it one ounce of gum-mastic in powder, a little at a time, stirring till the wax and the mastic are well mingled ; then add, in the same manner, an ounce of bitumen in powder. There are three different ways of applying an etching-ground to a plate. The old-fashioned way was to wrap a ball of the ground in silk, heat the plate, and then rub the ball upon the surface, enough of the ground to cover the plate melting through the silk. To equalize the ground a dabber was used, which was made of cotton-wool under horsehair, the whole inclosed in silk. This method is still used by many artists, from tradition and habit, but it is far inferior in perfection and convenience to that which we will now describe. When the etching-ground is melted, add to it half its volume of essential oil of lavender, mix well, and allow the mixture to cool. You have now a paste which can be spread upon a cold plate with a roller; these rollers are covered with leather and made (very care-fully) for the purpose. You first spread a little paste on a sheet of glass (if too thick, add more oil of lavender and mix with a palette knife), and roll it till the roller is quite equally charged all over, when the paste is easily trans-ferred to the copper, which is afterwards gently heated to expel the oil of lavender. In both these methods of grounding a plate the work is not completed until tha ground has been smoked, which is effected as follows. The plate is held by a hand-vice if a small one, or, if large, is fixed at some height, with the covered side downwards. A smoking torch, composed of many thin bees-wax dips twisted together, is then lighted and passed repeatedly under the plate in every direction, till the ground has incorporated enough lampblack to blacken it, The third way of covering a plate for etching is to apply the ground in solution as collodion is applied by photo-graphers. The ground may be dissolved in chloroform, or in oil of lavender. The plate being grounded, its back and edges are protected from the acid by Japan varnish, which soon dries, and then the drawing is traced upon it. The best way of tracing a drawing is to use sheet gelatine, which is employed as follows. The gelatine is laid upon the drawing, which its transparence allows you to see perfectly, and you trace the lines by scratching the smooth surface with a sharp point. You then fill these scratches with fine black-lead, in powder, rubbing it in with the finger, turn the tracing with its face to the plate, and rub the back of it with a burnisher. The black-lead from the scratches adheres to the etching ground and shows upon it as pale grey, much more visible than anything else you can use for tracing. Then comes the work of the etching-needle, which is merely a piece of steel sharpened more or less. Turner used a prong of an old steel fork which did as well as anything, but neater etching-needles are sold by artists' colourmakers. The needle removes the acid and lays the copper bare. Some artists sharpen their needles so as to present a cutting edge which, when used sideways, scrapes away a broad line ; and many etchers use needles of various degrees of sharpness to get thicker or thinner lines. It may be well to observe, in connection with this part of the subject, that whilst thick lines agree perfectly well with the nature of woodcut, they are very apt to give an unpleasant heaviness to plate engraving of all kinds, whilst thin lines have generally a clear and agreeable ap-pearance in plate engraving, Nevertheless, lines of moderate thickness are used effectively in etching when covered with finer shading, and very thick lines indeed were employed with good results by Turner when he intended to cover them with mezzotint, and to print in brown ink, because their thickness was essential to prevent them from being overwhelmed by the mezzotint, and the brown ink made them print less heavily than black. Etchers differ in opinion as to whether the needle ought to scratch the copper or simply to glide upon its surface. A gliding needle is much more free, and therefore communicates a greater appearance of freedom to the etching, but it has the incon-venience that the etching ground may not always be entirely removed, and then the lines may be defective from insufficient biting. A scratching'needle, on the other hand, is free from this serious inconvenience, but it must not scratch irregularly so as to engrave lines of various depth. The biting in former times was generally done with a mix-ture of nitrous acid and water, in equal proportions ; but in the present day a Dutch mordant is a good deal used, which is composed as follows :—Hydrochloric acid, 100 grammes ; chlorate of potash, 20 grammes; water, 880 grammes. To make it, heat the water, add the chlorate of potash, wait till it is entirely dissolved, and then add the acid. The nitrous mordant acts rapidly, and causes ebullition; the Dutch mordant acts slowly, and causes no ebullition. The nitrous mordant widens the lines; the Dutch mordant bites in depth, and does not widen the lines to any perceptible degree. The time required for both depends upon temperature. A mordant bites slowly when cold, and more and more rapidly when heated. To obviate irregularity caused by difference of temperature, the writer of this paper has found it a good plan to heat the Dutch mordant artificially to 95° Fahr. by lamps under the bath (lor which a photographer's porcelain tray is most convenient), and keep it steadily to that temperature ; the results may then be counted upon ; but whatever the temperature fixed upon, the results will be regular if it is regular. To get different degrees of biting on the same plate the lines which are to be pale are " stopped out" by being painted over with Japan varnish or with etching ground dissolved in oil of lavender, the darkest lines being reserved to the last, as they have to bite longest. When the acid has done its work properly the lines are bitten in such various degrees of depth that they will print with the degree of blackness required ; but if some parts of the subject require to be made paler, they Reduc- can be lowered by rubbing them with charcoal and olive ing- oil, and if they have to be made deeper they can be rebitten, Rebiting. or covered with added shading. E,ebiting is done with the roller above mentioned, which is now charged very lightly with paste and rolled over the copper with no pressure but its own weight, so as to cover the smooth surface, but not fill up any of the lines. The oil of lavender is then expelled as before by gently heating the plate, but it is not smoked. The lines which require rebiting may now be rebitten, and the others preserved against the action of the acid bystopping out. These are a few of the most essential technical points in etching, but there are many matters of detail for which the reader is referred to the special works on the subject.

The two countries in which etching has been most practised are Holland and France. It has also been successfully practised in Italy, Germany, and England, but not to so great an extent. It has resembled line engraving in receiv-ing a powerful impulse from celebrated painters, but whereas with the exception of Albert Diirer the painters have seldom been practical line engravers, they have advanced etching not only by advice given to others but by Influence the work of their own hands. Rembrandt did as much for of Rem- etching as either Raphael or Rubens for line engraving; and*"11 auc^ *n landscape the etchings of Claude had an influence Claude, which still continues, both Rembrandt and Claude being practical workmen in etching, and very skilful workmen. And not only these, but many other eminent painters have practised etching successfully, each in his own way. Ostade, Ruysdael, Berghem, Paul Potter, Karl Dujardin, etched as they painted, and so did a greater than any of them, Vandyke. In the earlier part of the present century etching was almost a defunct art, except as it was employed by engravers as a help to get faster through their work, of which " engraving " got all the credit, the public being unable to distinguish between etched lines and lines cut The re- with the burin. During the last fifteen or twenty years, vival of however, there has been a great revival of etching as an in-etchmg. <ieperlc|ent; art; a revival which has extended all over Europe, though France has had by far the largest and most import-ant share in it. It was hoped, at the beginning of this revival, that it would lead to the production of many fine original works; but the commercial laws of demand and supply have unfortunately made modern etching almost entirely the slave of painting. Nearly all the clever etchers of the present day are occupied in translating pictures, which many of them, especially linger, Jacquemart, Flameng, and Rajon, do with remarkable ability, even to the very touch and texture of the painter. The comparative rapidity of the process, and the ease with which it imitates the manner of painters, have caused etching to be now very generally preferred to line engraving by publishers for the translation of all pictures except those belonging to a severe and classical style of art, for which the burin is, and will always remain, better adapted than the etching-needle.

Yet, notwithstanding the present commercial predominance of etching from pictures, there are still some artists and eminent amateurs who have cultivated original etching with success. Mr Seymour Haden, Mr Whistler, Mr Samuel Palmer, and others in England, MM. Bracquemond, Dau-bigny, Charles Jacque, Appian, Lalanne, and others on the Continent, besides that singular and remarkable genius Charles Meiyon, have produced original works of very various interest and power. Etching clubs, or associations of artists for the publication of original etchings, have beeu founded in England, France, Germany, and Belgium. The real difficulty of the art, and its apparent facility, have led to much worthless production, but this ought not to make us overlook what is really valuable.

The following is a brief analysis of different styles of etching. 1. Pure Line—.As there is line engraving, so there is etching, line etching; but as the etching-needle is a freer instrument than the burin, the line has qualities which differ widely from those of the burin line. Each of the two has its own charm and beauty; the liberty of the one is charming, and the re-straint of the other is admirable also in its right place. In line etching, as in line engraving, the great masters purposely exhibit the line and do not hide it under too much shading. 2. Line and Shade,—This answers exactly in etching to Mantegna's work in engraving. The most important lines are drawn first throughout, and the shade thrown over them like a wash with the brush over a pen sketch in indelible ink. 3. Shade and Texture.—This is used chiefly to imitate oil-painting. Here the line (properly so called) is entirely abandoned, and the attention of the etcher is given to tex-ture and chiaroscuro. He uses lines, of course, to express these, but does not exhibit them for their own beauty; on the contrary, he conceals them.

Of these three styles of etching the first is technically the easiest, and being also the most rapid, is adopted for sketching on the copper from nature; the second is the next in difficulty; and the third the most difficult, on account of the biting, which is never easy to manage when it becomes elaborate. The etcher has, however, many re-sources ; he can make passages paler by burnishing them, or by using charcoal, or he can efface them entirely with the scraper and charcoal; he can darken them by rebiting or by regrounding the plate and adding fresh work ; and he need not run the risk of biting the very palest passages of all, because these can be easily done with the dry point, which is simply a well-sharpened stylus used directly on the copper without the help of acid. It is often asserted that anyone can etch who can draw, but this is a mistaken assertion likely to mislead. Without requiring so long an apprenticeship as the burin, etching is a very difficult art indeed, the two main causes of its difficulty being that the artist does not see his work properly as he proceeds, and that mistakes or misfortunes in the biting, which are of frequent occurrence to the inexperienced, may destroy all the relations of tone.

Aquatint.—This is a kind of etching which successfully Aquatint, imitates washes with a brush. There are many ways of preparing a plate for aquatint, but the following is the best. Have three different solutions of rosin in rectified alcohol, making them of various degrees of strength, but always thin enough to be quite fluid, the weakeat solution being almost colourless. First pour the strongest solution on the plate. When it dries it will produce a granulation ;' and you may now bite as in ordinary etching for your darker tones, stopping out what the acid is not to operate upon, or you may use a brush charged with acid, per-chloride of iron being a very good mordant for the pur-pose. After cleaning the plate, you proceed with the weaker solutions in the same way, the weakest giving the finest granulation for skies, distances, &c. The process

Tendency of engraving to tone and texture.

Invention of mezzotint engraving.

Preparation of the plate

The process.

The engravers of Key-colds.



requires a good deal of stopping-out, and some burnishing, scraping, <fcc., at last. It has been employed very successfully by M. Brunet Debaines in his plates from Turner, especially in Agrippina landing with the Ashes of Ger-manicus. Aquatint may be effectively used in combination with line etching, and still more harmoniously with soft ground etching in which the line imitates that of the lead pencil.

The natural tendency of the three kinds of engraving we have studied is from line to shade and from shade to texture. The perfection of line is seldom maintained when the attention of artists has been directed to the other elements, for line is a separate study. Shade is its enemy, but line may still survive under a veil of half shade. When chiaroscuro becomes complete the delicacy of line, which is an abstraction, is nearly lost; and when texture becomes an object also, the line is lost altogether. This appears to be the natural law of development in the graphic arts, and it is an approach to nature, which is all shade and texture without line; yet the pure line is a loss in art, from its ready expression of the feeling of the artist, and a loss for which more natural truth is not always a compensation.


Of all the kinds of engraving, mezzotint comes nearest to nature, though it is far from being the best as a means of artistic expression. It is said to have been invented by Prince Rupert, or by Lewis Siegen, a lieutenant in his service, in or about the year 1641, and to have been suggested by the rust on a weapon which a soldier was cleaning. The plate is prepared (before any design is made upon it) by means of an instrument like a chisel, with the edge ground into the segment of a circle like the rocker of a cradle, and so engraved as to present when sharp about 100 or 120 small teeth. This cradle is rocked from side to side with the hand, and every tooth makes a small dent in the copper, and raises a corresponding bur. The whole surface of the plate is gone over with this instrument about eighty times, in different directions, before it is in a fit con-dition to be worked upon. When sufficiently prepared it presents a fine soft-looking and perfectly even grain, and if in this state a proof is taken from it by the usual process of copper-plate printing, the result is nothing but the richest possible black. The engraver works from dark to light -by removing the grain with a scraper, and exactly in proportion as he removes it the tint becomes paler and paler. Pure whites are got by scraping the grain away entirely, and burnishing the place. As the process is from dark to light, the engraver has to be very cautious not to remove too much of his grain at once. He proceeds gradually from dark to half-dark, from half-dark to middle-tint, from middle-tint to half-light, and from half-light to light. He has nothing to do with line, but thinks entirely of masses relieved from each other by chiaroscuro. Wrhen the work is good the result is soft and harmonious, well adapted to the interpretation of some painters, but not of all. As the art has been most practised in England, some of its most successful work has been employed in the translation of English artists. More than a hundred engravers in mezzotint employed themselves on the portraits of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and the best of their works are now valued as the classics of the art, which is connected with the name of Reynolds just as line engraving is connected with that of Raphael. Turner and Constable's landscapes were also admirably engraved in mezzotint by Lupton and others, Turner himself being a good mezzotint engraver, though he practised the art little. Mezzotint engraving is still practised in England with great skill by Cousens and others, and would no doubt be more resorted to than it is if the plates yielded larger editions, but unfortunately they soon show signs of wear.

Dry point is really nothing but mezzotint in line. As Dry the point of the stylus makes its scratch on the copper, it point raises a bur, which retains the ink in the printing just as the bur from the cradle does in mezzotint. The bur of dry point also wears away fast, and yields but few impressions.

Copper, steel, and zinc are the metals chiefly used for engraving. Steel is less employed than formerly, because copper is now covered with a coat of steel by the electrotype process, which enables it to resist printing indefinitely, as the steel can be renewed at will. Zinc is similarly coated with copper, and sometimes used for small editions.

AUTHORITIES.—A real knowledge of engraving can only be attained by a careful study and comparison of the prints themselves, oi of accurate facsimiles, so that books are of little use except as guides to prints when the reader happens to be unaware of their existence, or else for their explanation of technical processes. The department of art-literature which classifies prints is called Iconography, and the classifications adopted by iconograpliers are of the most various kinds. For example, if a complete book were written on Shakespearian iconography it would contain full information about all prints illustrating the life and works of Shakespeare, and in the same way there may be the iconography of a locality or of a single event. The history of engraving is a part of iconography, and there are already various histories of the art in different lan-guages. In England Mr W. Y. Ottley wrote an Early History of Engraving, published in two volumes 4to, 1816, and began what was intended to be a series of notices on engravers and their works. Mr H. Ottley has also written upon the same subject. The facilities for the reproduction -of engravings by the photographic processes have of late years given an impetus to iconography, One of the most reliable modern writers on the subject is M. Georges Duplessis, the keeper of print3 in the national library of France. He has written the History of Engraving in France, and has pub-lished many notices of engravers to accompany the reproductions by M. Amand Durand. He is also the author of a useful little manual entitled Lcs Merveilles de la Gravure. Count de Laborde collected materials for a history of wood-engraving, and began to publish them, but the work advanced no farther than a first num-ber. Jansen's work on the origin of wood and plate engraving, and on the knowledge of prints of the 15th and 16th centuries, was published at Paris in two volumes 8vo in 1808. Didot's Essai lypographique et bibliographique sur Vhistoire de la gravure sur bois was published in Paris (8vo) in 1863. A Treatise on Wood Engrav-ing, by John Jackson, appeared in 1839, and a second edition of the work in 1861. A good deal of valuable scattered information about engraving is to be found in the back numbers of the principal art periodicals, such as the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, L'Art, and the Portfolio. In the year 1877 Professor Colvin published a series of articles in the Portfolio on "Albert Diirer, His Teachers, His Rivals, and His Followers," which contain in a concentrated form the main results of what is known about the early engravers, with facsimiles from their works. Professor Ruskin has also published a volume on engraving, entitled Ariadne FlorenMna, in which the reader will find much that is suggestive ; but he ought to be on his guard against certain assertions of the author, especially these two, —(1) that all good engraving rejects chiaroscuro, and (2) that etching is an indolent and blundering process at the best. The illustrations to this volume are of unequal merit: the facsimiles from Holbein are good; the reductions of early Italian engravings are not good. The reader will find information about engraving, and many fac-similes of old woodcuts, in the different volumes by Paul Lacroix on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, published by Firmin Didot; the information may be relied upon, but the facsimiles, though effective, are not always perfect. Roret's Collection de Manuelsfor-mant une Encyclopedic des Sciences et des Arts contains a pocket volume on engraving which is full of useful practical information, and another similar volume on plate-printing, also very useful to engravers on metal, who ought always to understand printing ; these voiumes may be had separately. Etching has been the subject oi several different treatises. The oldest is that of Abraham Bosse, published at Paris in 1645, 8vo, and in 1701, 12mo. The revival of etching in our own day has been accompanied by the publication of various treatises. The first was a short account of the old process by Mr Alfred Ashley ; then came the French brochure of M. Maxime Lalanne; then Etching and Etchers (450 pages, in the stereotyped edition)by the writer of this article, and a smaller treatise, Tlie Etcher's Handbook, by the same. These were followed by another short French handbook, that of M. Martial. For information about the states of plates, their prices, their authenticity and history, the student ought to consult the best catalogue-makers, such as Bartsch, Claussin, Charles Blanc, &c. The literature of engraving is now rapidly increasing in consequence of the new processes of reproduction, and the great engravers of past times are becoming much better known. Works on the subject frequently appear, not only in England and France, but also in Germany, whilst Holland and Italy bring their contributions to general iconography. In consequence of this rapid extension of studies on the subject, any attempt at a universal bibliography of works about engraving would soon become obsolete or incomplete. (P. G. H.)


It may be well to say something here about the accessibility of ex-amples. Any one living in London can study engraving at its sources to the fullest extent in fine impressions belonging to that little-appre-taated treasure-house, the print-room of the British Museum, but the difficulty is for students who live in the provinces or in distant colonies.

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