Reference Entry

Etching, relief

Raymond Lister

in Oxford Art Online


Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T026867

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Relief printmaking process in which a metal block is prepared by etching and the design is left in relief. It was first used by Leonardo da Vinci and then most notably by William Blake. Interested in all aspects of printmaking, Leonardo was aware of the lack of a method of making blocks that would give impressions nearer to original drawings than the somewhat crude woodblocks then available. Intaglio engravings could give a close approximation but presented many difficulties, such as the necessity either of putting the leaves through two presses—one for the relief type, another for the intaglios, which required greater pressure—or printing type and illustrations on separate leaves. Relief etching would make it possible to print everything simultaneously and provide lines sufficiently sharp to reproduce a drawing with considerable accuracy.

Leonardo’s method involved coating an iron or copper plate with a water-soluble mixture of albumen and white lead. The design was scratched through this in reverse, following which the whole surface was coated with a brittle, acid-resisting ...

Reference Entry.  1228 words. 

Subjects: Prints and Printmaking

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