The technique of Mezzotint

About Mezzotint

An intaglio variant of engraving where the plate first is roughened evenly all over; the image is then brought out by scraping smooth the surface, creating the image by working from dark to light. It is possible to create the image by only roughening the plate selectively, so working from light to dark.

Mezzotint is known for the luxurious quality of its tones: first, because an evenly, finely roughened surface holds a lot of ink, allowing deep solid colours to be printed; secondly because the process of smoothing the texture with burin, burnishers and scraper allows fine gradations in tone to be developed.

The mezzotint printmaking method was invented by Ludwig von Siegen (1609-1680). The process was widely used in England from the mid-eighteenth century, to reproduce portraits and other paintings.


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