What is etching?
Etching is a printmaking process. The purpose of this technique is to apply an impression on the paper with an etched plate. The manufacturing process requires a special needle which it’s going to be used to draw on a metal plate. Then the plate is treated with acid - which produces incised lines, and ink. In the end, the plate is used to print reproductions of the design.
Etching is a part of the Intaglio printmaking method. It is the reference to all the printmaking techniques which are using indents or incisions into a plate or print surface such as:
- Silkscreen Printing
Etching process in History…
If etching was commonly used in Antiquity as a decorative tool for jewellery, the etching process was invented by Daniel Hopfer. Hopfer was a craftsman who decorated armour, and applied the method to printmaking, using iron plates.
In the 17th century, artists used 3 different types of techniques: copper engraving, drypoint and etching. Each technique processes the same way but with some particularities:
- Copper engraving is the oldest process and was the most used during the Renaissance. The process is difficult and required a strong metal-working skill because it involves carving directly on the copper plate.
- The Drypoint process involves a needle also called a burin, used to carve the plate.
Etching was the solution for those without a metal-working background.
The 17th century is known as the great age of etching, with Rembrandt for example.
In the 18th century, Piranesi, Tiepolo and Daniel Chodowiecki were famous etchers.
From 1850 to 1930, the Etching remerge especially in France, Britain and the United-States produced artists, but no major figures appeared. Etching is still widely practised today.
Etching was used in magazine like La Mode Illustrée, a French magazine with hand painted fashion prints. Artwork created in 1867.
Check out collection of etchings HERE