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wood. Among his most famous works are portraits of the Emperor Maximilian ; of Albert, Elector of Mentz; of Philip Melancthon ; a full length of Erasmus, who is represented standing at a desk, writing ; a head of Ulric Vambuler, of the size of life; and a portrait of himself. He also executed a series of engravings on wood, thirty-six in number, representing scenes from the life of our Saviour.
We have mentioned these prints, because they exercised an important influence on the career of a young Italian, who was now successfully cultivating the same art, and who was destined to carry it to a much higher degree of excellence. Marc-Antonio Raimondi was born at Bologna, and studied the art of painting with Francesco Francia. He was early distinguished for his works in niello, but seems to have made no attempts at regular engraving until his attention was directed to it by accident. Having taken a journey to Venice, he saw for sale the set of prints, by Albert Durer, representing the life of our Saviour. These prints were held in high estimation, and sold at a very great price; but the young artist was so much tempted by them, that he could not refrain from the purchase, though it completely exhausted his funds. In order to repair his fortunes, he immediately began to make copies of Durer's pieces, which he executed with so much success in copper, that he was able to sell them in Venice, as originals by Durer. The latter, as Vasari tells the story, in his “Lives of Painters," on hearing of the fraud, immediately repaired to Venice, and complained to the Senate of the injury; but obtained no other satisfaction, than a decree forbidding Marc-Antonio from affixing to his prints the name or emblem of Durer.
From Venice, Marc-Antonio went to Rome, where he had the good fortune to become acquainted with Raphael, who was then residing there. Having made an engraving from Raphael's Lucretia, he caused it to be shown to the artist, who immediately perceived the great advantage which he should enjoy by means of this invention, in having his works spread over the world ; and from this time Antonio found his chief occupation in copying the works of this great master, receiving from him many useful hints and directions, so that the art was greatly improved by his labors. His reputation was soon established throughout Italy, and his school was resorted to by numerous disciples ; among whom were Marco da Ravenna, Agostino Veneziano, and Giulio Bonasone, who were almost as accomplished and successful as their teacher, and did much to improve the taste of Europe.
The art was thus firmly established in Italy and in Holland. The first kind which was practised was the line engraving, as would naturally be supposed, when we remember the origin of the invention. And it is worthy of note, that, although many other ways have been adopted for cutting the copper, the earliest method is still used for the most costly and elaborate works. A short account of the different modes of engraving may not be uninteresting to our readers.
The principal instruments, used for line engraving, are the graver, the scraper, the burnisher, and the steel point. The graver is a piece of hardened steel, four or five inches long, having four sides, and varying from three sixteenths to one sixteenth of an inch in thickness, the sides forming a right or acute angle according as the lines are to be cut bold or delicate, and is cut off obliquely at the end to give a sharp point at one of the corners.' The handle is of wood, or cork, shaped somewhat like the handle of a common screw-driver, but much shorter. The scraper is a long, triangular piece of steel, regularly diminishing from the handle to the point. The three edges are kept sharp by rubbing them on an oilstone, and are used for removing the burr, or roughness occasioned by cutting the plate with the graver, and also for erasing erroneous lines. The third instrument is the burnisher, which is a hard, round, and highly polished piece of steel, used for rubbing out any little dots or scratches which occur in the copper. The steel point, set in a wooden handle, is also used for etching, and for some of the delicate work, technically called dry-pointing, which the graver could not so well be made to perform.
The present usual process for line engraving is as follows. The plate, being properly prepared, the work is commenced by what is called etching, which is thus performed. The plate is covered with a thin ground or varnish, composed of asphaltum, gum mastic, and virgin wax. If an outline in pencil is to be transferred to the plate, the pencil outline is laid carefully upon a clean paper, and thoroughly sponged with water upon the back, and then placed between damp sheets of paper for a few moments. The outline is then again sponged in a similar manner; and this is repeated until the paper becomes completely saturated with water. It is then laid upon the plate
on which the ground is, and rolled through a plate press; and an inverted pencil outline is thus produced upon the plate. If the drawing is traced, it is done either with a pencil upon transparent paper, and then transferred as above, or upon tracing-paper with the point ; which tracing-paper, after tracing, is rubbed with red chalk, then laid upon the plate, and the tracing lightly gone over with the point ; thus producing upon the plate an inverted outline in red chalk. Different kinds of tracing-paper are used for these different processes. The outlines, and such parts as require freedom and irregularity of line, and the main lines of the dark drapery, &c., are then marked through the ground, care being taken that every line shall penetrate to the copper. The edges of the plate are then surmounted by a high border of wax, closely fitted, and a dilution of the best spirits of aqua fortis and water is poured over the whole. The acid of course reaches the metal wherever lines have been drawn through the wax, and the bubbles of air produced by the chemical action, together with the saturated portions of the metal, are brushed away with a feather. For biting steel several other kinds of acid are used; for very soft steel, powdered corrosive sublimate and alum, dissolved in water; for hard steel, nitric acid diluted, the plate, before the acid is applied, being washed with a decoction of put-gall. When the action of the acid has been continued long enough, the liquid is poured off, and the operator examines his work carefully. If he finds that the desired effect has been produced in the lines drawn, he fills them up, or, in the technical language, they are stopped out. The biting, or action of the acid, is then continued for the deeper shades, which are afterwards stopped out, and so on. When the work is completed, the varnish is cleaned off, the plate washed with oil of turpentine, and any deficiencies are remedied with the graver. The plate is then finished with the graver and the dry-point, and by rebiting, which last is done by laying a ground upon the surface of the plate, so as that it shall not penetrate the lines, and then biting as before, or washing on the acid where any part is wished darker. From this description, it may be seen how much of the beauty of the work depends upon the skill of the artist in using the graver. Indeed, this instrument seems to possess scarcely less power than the pencil or the chisel. Within its compass are contained
all that art can convey of delicacy, grace, beauty, and power.
This practice of etching must have been very early adopted, as it is extremely probable that acid was used by the manufacturers of swords and other warlike implements, in decorating blades and other weapons, before the invention of engraving on copper ; and its adaptation to this purpose would have been readily perceived. The merit of inventing etching was claimed by an Italian artist, Parmegiano ; but it is ascertained, that it was earlier practised by Albert Durer, from some prints by that artist, bearing the dates of 1518 and 1524.
For letter, map, and plan engraving, the process is as follows. The plate, being carefully prepared to receive the cutting, is warmed sufficiently to melt white wax, with a thin coating of which it is then covered. The outline of the drawing is then traced upon paper with a black-lead pencil, and laid, the pencilled side downward, upon the wax, and the back gently rubbed with the burnisher ; by which process the drawing is transferred to the wax. The engraver is thus guided in making the outline of the design on the copper, which he does by means of the point above mentioned, penetrating through the wax, and marking distinctly on the plate, or by cutting directly through the wax with the graver. The wax is then wiped off, and the plate finished with the graver and point. The plate must be laid upon a strong, steady table, and a sort of awning or shade of silk paper stretched on a frame be placed near the window, in such a manner as to prevent a glare of light from falling upon the copper. Whenever an erroneous line is made by the slipping of the graver, or other cause, it must be effaced by the burnisher, and the indentings which this leaves must then be levelled with the scraper, rubbed with charcoal and water, and lightly polished with the burnisher.
The second kind of engraving, which is done by making dots in the copper instead of lines, is called stippling. The principal advantage of this style is, that delicate parts of the engraving may be done with less labor and in a shorter time. It will readily be seen, that, the greater the number of the dots, and the closer they are together, without being so pear as to form a continuous line in any direction, the more will the work resemble a crayon drawing. On account of this resemblance, stippling is, in England, commonly called chalk engraving. It is often found united in the same piece with line engraving, being employed for the more delicate parts, while the drapery, and all the bolder portions of the work, are represented in lines. An instrument has been invented by which this kind of engraving may be more expeditiously accomplished. This is called a roulette. It is a toothed wheel attached to a handle ; and, being rolled over the copper, it makes a row of dots. The effect of this, however, is much inferior to the dotting made by the graver. Stippling is a very ancient invention, and is attributed to the Italians. It is known to have been used by Augustine of Venice, who, as we have already mentioned, was a pupil of Marc-Antonio; and there is still preserved a print executed by this artist, representing an old man seated on a bank, with a cottage in the background. The flesh only, however, is done in dots. There is also another print of a single figure standing, holding a cup and looking upwards, by Giulio Campagnola, who engraved in the early part of the sixteenth century. The background is executed in round dots, apparently made with the needle or dry point, and the figure is outlined with a deep stroke and finished with dots, the hair and beard being executed in lines.
The third style of engraving is the mezzotinto. The plate, being prepared, the process is commenced nearly in the same manner as for line engraving, the outline and bolder parts being etched. The plate is laid on a firm table, which has a flannel cloth upon it to prevent the copper from slipping. An instrument called a groundingtool, provided with teeth, is then applied to the plate, and rocked backwards and forwards in every direction over its surface, so as to cover it with fine indentations, care being taken not to allow the tool to cut twice in the same place. When this operation is finished, the plate is found to be so engraved that an impression from it would present a uniformly black surface. The engraver now resorts to the scraper and burnisher, and presses down or rubs out the roughness of the copper, over that part of the surface where the figures are to appear, obliterating the ground for the lights and leaving it for the shades. Great care must be taken in this part of the operation, to make the gradations from shade to light extremely deli