The technique of Dry Point

About Dry Point

Dry point is a variant of engraving, done with a sharp point, rather than a v-shaped burin. While engraved lines are very smooth and hard-edged, dry point scratching leaves a rough burr at the edges of each line. This burr gives dry point prints a characteristically soft, and sometimes blurry, line quality. Because the pressure of printing quickly destroys the burr, dry point is useful only for very small editions; as few as ten or twenty impressions. To counter this, and allow for longer print runs, electro-plating (here called steel facing) has been used since the nineteenth century to harden the surface of a plate.

The technique appears to have been invented by the House book Master, a south German fifteenth century artist, all of whose prints are in dry point only. Among the most famous artists of the old master are prints by Albrecht Dürer, he produced 3 dry points before abandoning the technique; Rembrandt used it frequently, but usually in conjunction with etching and engraving.


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