by Andro Cecovini


Etching is one of the oldest artistic printing techniques invented towards the end of the 15th century. The old masters who used Etching as a specific form of artistic expression include Albrecht Dürer and von Leyda, followed by Il Parmigiano, in the early 16th century. However it is very probable that the need to preserve records of the original drawings that some of the finest craftsmen engraved on helmets and armour, as well as many other ordinary objects, had already led to the idea of the transfer of etchings carried out on metal onto paper as well. The word Acquaforte or Etching comes from the solution of water and nitric acid - or some other corrosive substance - in which the metal plate (copper, zinc, steel) is placed to be corroded by an acid reaction on the metal.

A classical etching by the artist, who rappresent an owl
By using special varnishes and regulating the length of time the plate is left in the acid bath, the artist is able to protect some areas of the plate from the corrosive action of the acid and eventually give his etched drawing varying effects of intensity and shading. Various techniques have been developed from basic Etching over the centuries. These include Acquatint which has made it possible to introduce painting techniques to a structure that is really based on line drawing.

See also: An artist who works in the midst of the Tuscan countryside e How to prepare an etching


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