stipple engraving

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A printmaking technique, a mixture of etching and engraving, in which the design is made up of countless small dots or flecks, producing softly graded tones. It was a popular reproductive technique in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when it was often used in conjunction with the crayon manner, from which it derived. Both were rendered obsolete by lithography. Stipple engraving was almost entirely confined to England, where Francesco Bartolozzi was an outstanding exponent. Its invention is credited to William Ryland (1732–83), who evidently first used the technique in 1774. Ryland was engraver to George III and made a good deal of money from his work, but he lived extravagantly and he was executed for forging bills of exchange. The young William Blake is said to have foreseen this, turning down an apprenticeship with Ryland because he was repelled by him and remarking that he ‘looks as if he will live to be hanged’.

Subjects: Art.

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