ENGRAVING

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ENGRAVING is the art of representing, by means of lines and points produced on a metallic surface by cutting or corrosion, the figures, lights and shades of objects, in order to multiply them by means of printing. The engraver is to the painter what the translator is to the author. As it is impossible to give a spirited translation of a work of genius withuut a portion of the author's fire, so it is essential to a good engraver that he should feei and understand the character of his original, and be initiated into the secrets of drawing, that his copy may be at once correct and spirited The arc of engraving on copper was invented in Europe in the first half of the 15th century. The Chinese seem to have been acquainted with it long before. The Dutch, the Italians and the Germans compete for the honor of its invention in Europe. It is known that the art was exercised by the Italian Finiguerra as early as 1460. The inventors of it were the goldsmiths, who were in the habit of making devices on their wares; and these, being often executed with much elegancy excited the desire to multiply copies hy transferring them to paper. Engraving differs from printing in having its subjects cut into a hard surface, instead of being raised above it, as is the case with types and wood cuts. Many metals and alloys have been employed for the purpose of engraving. The most common is copper, which is soft enough to be cut when cold, and hard enough to resist the action of the press.We shall now proceed to explain, the methods of executing different descriptions of engraving. The graver, an instrument of steel, is principally used in engraving on copper; it is square for cutting of broad lines, and lozenge for the finest, and must be tempered to that exact state, which will prevent the point from breaking or wearing by its action on the metal. The graver is inserted in a handle of hard wood, resembling a pear with a longitudinal slice cut off, which is to enable the artist to use it as flat on the plate as his fingers and thumb will permit. This instrument is used for removing the imperfections discoverable in etchings, and exclusively in engraving writing. In working, this instrument is held in the palm of the hand, and pushed forward so as to cut out a portion of the copper. The scraper is a long, triangular piece of steel, tapering gradually from the handle to the point; t/.ie three edges produced by this form, being sharpened on the oilstone, are used for scraping off the roughness occasioned by the graver, and erasing erroneous tines. The burnisher is a third instrument of steel, hard, round, and highly polished, for rubbing out punctures or scratches in the copper. The oilstone has been already mentioned. To these may be added the needle, or dry point, for etching, and making those extremely fine lines, which cannot be made with the graver. It is held in the fingers in the same way as a pen or pencil. Various kinds of varnish, resin, wax, charcoal and mineral acids are also employed in different parts of the operation, according to the subject, and the style of engraving which is adopted. The first which we shall describe is Line Engraving. To trace the design intended for engraving accurately on the plate, it is usual to heat the latter sufficiently to melt white wax, with which it must be covered equally and thin, and suffered to cool; the drawing is then copied in outlines, with a blacklead pencil, v on paper, which is laid with the pencilled side upon the wax, and the back rubbed gently with the burnisher, which will transfer the lead to the wax. The design must next be traced, with an etching nee* die, through the wax on the copper, when, on wiping it clean, it will exhibit all the outlines ready for the graver. The table intended for engraving on should be perfectly steady. Great care is necessary to carry the hand with such steadiness and skill, as to prevent the end of the line from being stronger and deeper than the commencement; and sufficient space must be left between the lines to enable the artist to make those stronger, gradually, which require it. The roughness or burr occasioned by the graver must be removed by the scraper, the lines filled by the oilrubber, and the surface of the copper cleansed, in order that the progress of the work may be ascertained. If any accident should occur, by the slipping of the graver beyond the boundary required, or lines are found to be placed erroneously, they are to be effaced by the burnisher, which leaving deep indentings, these must be levelled by the scraper, rubbed with charcoal and water, and finally polished lightly with the burnisher. As the uninterrupted light of the day causes a glare upon the surface of the copper, hurtful and dazzling to the eyes, it is customary to engrave beneath the shade of silk paper, stretched on a square frame, which is placed reclining towards the room, near the sill of a window. Such are the directions and means to be employed in engraving historical subjects: indeed, the graver is equally necessary for the remedying of imperfections in etching; to which must be added the use of the dry point in both, for making the faintest shades in the sky, architecture, drapery, water, &c, &c. Stippling. The second mode of engraving is that called stippling, or engraving in dots. This resembles the last mentioned metliod in its processes, except that, instead of lines, it is finished by minute points or excavations in the copper. These punctures, when made with the dry point, are circular: when made with the graver, they are "rhomboidal or triangular. The variations and progressive magnitude of these dots give the whole effect to stippled engraving. This style of work is always more slow* laborious, and, of course, more expensive, than engraving in lines. It has, however, some advantages in the softness and delicacy of its lights and shades, and approaches nearer to the effect of"painting than the preceding method. A more expeditious way of multiplying the dots has been coo trived in the instrument called a roukttet a toothed wheel, fixed to a handle which,by being rolled forcibly along the copper, produces a row of indentations. This method, however, is less manageable than the other, and generally produces a stiff effect. Engraving of Mezzotintos differs entirely from the manner above described. This method of producing prints which resemble drawings in Indiaink, is said by Evelyn, in his history of chalcography, tb have been discovered by prince Rupert. Some accounts say that he learned the art from an officer named Siegen or Sichem, in the service of HesseCassel. It was, some years past, a very favorite way of engraving portraits and historical subjects ; of the former, the large heads of Fiy are of superior excellence. The tools required for this easy and rapid mode of proceeding are, the groundingtool, the scraper and the burnisher. The copperplate should be prepared as if intended for the graver, and laid flat upon a table, with a piece of flannel spread under it, to prevent the plate from slipping; the groundingtool is then held perpendicularly on it, and rocked with moderate pressure backwards and forwards, till the teeth of the tool have equally and regularly marked the copper from side to side; the operation is afterwards repeated from end to end, and from each corner to the opposite ; but it is necessary to observe, that the tool must never be permitted to cut twice in the same place; by this means the surface is converted into a rough chaos of intersections, which, if covered with ink and printed, would present a perfectly black impression upon the paper. This is the most tedious part of the process. The rest, to a skilful artist, is much easier than line engraving or stippling. It consists in pressing down or rubbing out the roughness of the plate, by means of the burnisher and scraper, to the extent of the intended figure, obliterating the ground for lights, and leaving it for shades. Where a strong light is required, the whole ground is erased. For a medium light, it is moderately burnished, or partially erased. For the deepest shades, the ground is left entire. Care is taken to preserve the insensible gradations of light and shade, upon which the effect and harmony of the piece essentially depend. Engraving in mezzotinto approaches more nearly to the effect of oilpaintings than any other species. It is well calculated for the representation of obscure pieces, such as night scenes, &e. The principal objection to the method is, that the plates wear out speed ity under the press, and, of course, yielda comparatively small number of im' pressions. Etching. Of engravings which require the aid of aquafortis, the principal is etching. He that would excel in this branch of the aits must be thoroughly acquainted with drawing. The ground used in etching is a combination of asphaltum, gum mastic and virgin wax. The proportions of the ingredients should be obtained by experiment. The copperplate is hammered to a considerable degree of hardness, polished as if intended for the graver, and heated over a charcoal fire; the ground is then rubbed over it, till every part is thinly and equally varnished. The varnish is then blackened by the smoke of a lamp, that the operator may see the progress and state of his work. The next object is to transfer the design to the ground, which may be done by drawing it on thin white paper with a blacklead pencil, and having it passed through the copperplate printer's rolling press; the lead will be conveyed firmly to the ground, which will appear in perfect outlines on removing the paper. Another method is, to draw the design reversed from the original; rub the back with powdered white chalk, and, laying it on the ground, trace the lines through with a blunt point: this operation requires much precaution, or the point will cut the ground. After the plate is prepared, the operator, supporting his hand on a ruler, begins his drawing, taking care always to reach the copper. Every line must be kept distinct, throughout the plate, and the most distant should be closer and more regular than those in the fore ground, and the greater the depth of shade, the broader and deeper must the lines be made. When the etching of the plate is completely finished, the edges of it must be surrounded by a high border of wax, so well secured that water will not penetrate between the plate and it. The best spirits of aquafortis must then be diluted with water, and poured upon the plate, which undergoes a chemical action wherever it has been laid bare by the needle, while the remainder of the surface is defended by the varnish. The bubbles of fixed air, and the saturated portions of metal, are carefully brushed away with a feather. After the operator thinks the acid has acted long enough, he pours it off, and examines the plate. If the light shades are found to be sufficiently bit m, they are covered with varnish, or stopped o\d. The biting is then continued for the second shades, which are next stopped out: and so on. Aflei the process is completed, the varnish is melted and wiped off, the plate cleaned with oil of turpentine, and any deficiencies in the lines remedied with the graver. As the acid cannot be made to act with perfect regularity, etchings will always be rough in comparison with line engravings. This veiy circumstance, however, fits etching for the representation of coarse objects in nature, such as trunks of trees, broken ground, &c, especially on a large scale. In landscape engraving, we generally find a mixture of methods, the coarser parts being etched, the more delicate cut with the graver. Letters and written characters are mostly cut, and seliom etched. (For the mode of engraving in aquatinta, see Aquatinta). Steel Engraving was introduced by our celebrated countryman, Mr. Perkins. The steel plate is softened by being deprived of a part of its carbon; the engraving is then made, and the plate hardened again by the restoration of the carbon. The great advantage of steel plates consists in their hardness, by which they are made to yield an indefinite number of impressions; whereas a copper plate wears out after 2 or 3000 impressions, and even much sooner if the engraving be fine. An engraving on a steel plate may be transferred, in relief, to a softened steel cylinder by pressure; this cylinder, after being hardened, may again transfer the design, by being rolled upon a fresh steel plate : thus the design may be multiplied at pleasure. Steel plates may also be etched. Engraving on precious Stones is accomplished with the diamond or emery. The diamond possesses the peculiar property of resisting every body in nature, and, though the hardest of all stones, it may be cut by a part of itself, and polished by its own particles. In order to render this splendid substance fit to perform the operations of the tool, two rough diamonds are cemented fast ip the ends of the same number of sticks, and rubbed together till the form is obtained for which they are intended ; the powder thus produced is preserved, and used for polishing them in a kind of mill furnished with a wheel of iron; the diamond is then secured in a brazen dish, and the dust, mixed with oliveoil, applied; the wheel is set in motion, and the friction occasions the polished surface so necessary to give their lustre due eflfect. Other stones, as rubies, topazes and sapphires, are cut into various angles on a wheel of copper; and the material for polishing those is tripoli diluted with water. A leaden wheel, covered with emery mixed with water, is preferred for the cutting of emeralds, amethysts, hyacinths, agates, granites, &c. &c; and they are polished on a pewter wheel with tripoli : opal, lapis lazuli, &c, are polished on a wheel made of wood. Contrary to the method used by persons who turn metals, in which the substance to be wrought is fixed in the lathe, turned by it, and the tool held to the substance, the engraver of the crystal, lapis lazuli, &c, fixes his tools in the lathe, and holds the precious stone to them, thus forming vases, or any other shape, by interposing diamond dust mixed with oil, or emery and water, between the tool and the substance, as often as it is dispersed by the rotary motion of the former. The engraving of armorial bearings, single figures, devices, &c, on any of the above stones, after they are polished, is performed through the means of a small iron wheel, the ends of the axis of which are received within two pieces of iron, in a perpendicular position, that may be closed, or otherwise, as the operation requires ; the tools are fixed to one end of the axis, and screwed firm ; the stone to be engraved is then held to the tool, the wheel set in motion by the foot, and the figure gradually formed. The material of which the tools are made is generally iron, and sometimes brass: some are flat, like chisels, gouges, ferules, and others have circular heads. After the work is finished, the polishing is done with hair brushes fixed on wheels and tripoli. Engraving in Wood has been practised ibr several centuries, and originally with tolerable success; it languished for a great part of the 18th centuiy, but revived towards the close, and is still practised in a manner which reflects credit on the ingenuity of the age. The lines, instead of being cut into the substance, are raised, like the letters of pruning types, and printed in the same manner. The wood used for this purpose is box, which is preferred for the hardness and closeness of its texture. It is cut across the grain, into pieces of the height of common types, that the engraving may be made upon the end of the grain, for the sake of strength and durability. The sui face must be planed smooth, and the design drawn on it with a blacKlead pencil; the graver is then used, the finer excavations from which are intended fat white interstices between the black lines produced by leaving the box untouched^\ and the greatest lights are made by cutting away the wood entirely, of the intended form, length and breadth ; but the deepest shades require no engraving. Much of the beauty of this kind of engraving depends upon the printing. A recent improvement has been made in woodl engraving, which is this: The blocks are prepared as before, and then covered with flake white. The drawing is then made on this, and the wood engraver has only to cut out the lights. The beautiful wood cuts, executed by Branston and Wright, for the Tower menagerie and zoological gardens (after designs by Harvey), recently published in London, are executed in this manner. Wood engravings have this advantage, that they may be inserted in a page of common types, and printed without separate expense. They are very durable, and may be multiplied by the process of stereotyping. Colored Engravings. Colored engravings are variously executed. The most common ar,. printed in black outline, and afterwards painted separately in watercolors. Sometimes a surface is produced by aquatinta, or stippling, and different colors applied in printing to different parts, care being taken to wipe off the colors in opposite directions, that they may not interfere with each other. But the most perfect as well as most elaborate productions, are those which are first printed in colors, and afterwards painted by hand. Engravers, modern. Among modern nations, the Italians, French, Germans, and English have rivalled each other in producing great works in the department of engraving; but, on the whole, the superiority seems to belong to the Italians and French, both for the number and the value of their productions; and more particularly for the excellence of their impressions. Many great works, executed in Germany, are sent to Paris to be struck off. In Germany, Frederic von Miiller, whose Madonna di S. Sisto is still a jewel in collections, died too early for the art. C. Rahl distinguished himself by his engraving of Fra Bartolomeo's Presentation of Christ in the Temple, and of Raphael's St, Margaret. K. Hess, Reindel, Umer (lately deceased), Leybold, Lutz and A. Kessler have produced fine cabinetpieces. John in Vienna, Kobell in Munich, Barth, Amsler and Rushweyh in Rome, are distinguished in different branches. Chodovrtecki, Bause, Bolt, Clemens, Gmelin, and many others, have contributed much to advance the art of engraving. In gene ral, it may be mentioned as a favorable sign of the times, that all the first artists in Germany apply their talents to great works, whilst the taste for souvenir ehgravings seems rapidly dying away. Those engravers who have produced the best plates for scientific works, so very important a branch of the art, and those in the department of geography, would deserve to be mentioned, if we had room. France has maintained her early fame, in the art of engraving, down to the most recent times. The engravings of A. BoucherDesnoyers (for instance, the Madonna di Foligno, LaVierge, dite La Belle Jardiniere, Francis I, and Margaret of Navarre, Pha3-dre and Hippolyte, the portrait of the Prince de Benevento) are acknowledged masterpieces. Lignon's St. Caecilia from Domenichino, his Atala, his portrait of Mademoiselle Mars ; Massard's St. Cecilia of Raphael, and Apollo with the Muses of Giulio Romano ; Richomme's, Dien's, Girodet's, Gudin's, Audouin's plates, no less magnificently than carefully executed; Jazet's large pieces in aquatinta (for instance, from the paintings of Vernet)all manifest how rich France is in great engravers. Neither ought we to forget the magnificent literary works, almost constantly published in France, which owe their ornaments to the skill of French engravers. In the most recent productions of the French engravers, an imitation of the school of Morghen is observable; whilst some young Italian and Ge^an artists have aimed at something higher than even Morghen's productions. Since the art of painting has ceased to produce many works worthy of multiplication by the burin of the first engravers, these have occupied themselves chiefly with ancient masterpieces, and engraving has taken a higher station among the fine arts. Morghen, the pupil of Volpato, and those who have followed him, have produced works before unequalled. The Milanese school of engravers, in particulai, has reached a degree of perfection, through Anderloni and Longhi, which no other country can probably equal. Longhi's Sposalizio is as yet the greatest production in the art of engraving. Toschi, of Parma, has acquired immortality by his Entrance of Henry IV into Paris (from Gerard), in 1826; Schiavone, by his Ascension of the Holy Virgin (from the painting of Titian), which may be called perfect, in regard to its picturelike effect. Bettelini, Bonato, Gandolffi, Garavaglia, Fontana Rosaspina, Benoglio, Giberti, Palmerini, Poporati, Pavon (by birth a Spaniard, however^ Rainaldi and Rampoldi have produced beautifully finished engravings; and Luigi Rossini and Pinelli have etched scenes full of life. Splendid works, in which typography and chalcography unite their attractions, have appeared at Florence, Venice, Rome and Milan. But England is richer in such works, as the sceneries there form a peculiar and very important branch of the productions of the art. Some of these works, however, exhibit an exaggerated delicacy, bordering on affectation ; while others neglect details, and betray too much effort for effect. But the productions of Earlom, Pether, Dixon, Green, &c, must not be confounded with the works just referred to. The plates of Raphael's cartoons, in Hampton court, on which Thomas Holloway and Webber have been engaged, are praised as the highest specimens of the art. In these engravings, the masterly etching, which often permits them to allow the etchings themselves to remain, is worthy of admiration. Smith, Middiman, Byrne, James Mason, James and Charles Heath, William Woollet, William Sharp, John Burnet, and John Browne are known to all collectors. Their works are, comparatively, seldom seen on the European continent, because of their high prices. What Lasinio is for Italy, Moses aims to be for England, by his delicate sketches: among his other productions are his imitations of Retsch's illustrations of Gothe's Faust. But his copies of foreign masters are often deficient in correctness. C. Rolles and E. Finden also deserve mention among distinguished English engravers. The neatness, so much esteemed in England, has been promoted by the new art of siderography, which has not yet been applied to the execution of great works; whilst, in France and Germany, lithography, an invention of the latter country, has been preferred. With the Dutch, the burin is, at present, not very successful, if we compare their present artists to the former school of Pontius and Edelinck. But for picturesque etchings and productions by the needle, the skill formerly displayed has been preserved by Troostwyk, Van Os, Overbeck, Jansen, Chalon, and others. For more highly finished productions, in which the burin and needle must unite, in order to produce a tone, as in the engra. vings of Rembrandt's pictures, Claessens and De Frey are acknowledged masters. What Russia, Denmark and the Netherlands have produced in this branch, is not unworthy of notice. The engravings of Switzerland, mostly in Aberlrs manner, form a class by themselves. In the U. States, engraving has been cultivated with more success than any other department of the fine arts, though it cannot be expected that a country so young, and so distant from the numerous productions of former ages, should rival the great works of the art in Europe. But small engravings, particularly on steel, for souvenirs, have been produced, which may bear comparison with European productions of the kind. Among American engravers, Longacre, Kelly, Durandt; Danfbrth (now in London), Cheney, Gallaudet, Ellis, Hatch, and others, well deserve to be engaged on subjects of more permanent interest than souvenir engravings. Of the European artists who have been most distinguished in wood engraving, we would mention the names of the Sueurs, Jackson, Moretti, Canossa, Roger, Caron, Papillon, Beugnet, Dugoure. Among the most famous of the living artists, in this line, in England, are Thompson, Branston, Wright, Bonner, Slader, Sears, Nesbit, Hughes. In the U. States, Anderson, Adams, Mason, Fairchild, Hartwell, and others, are distinguished. After the art of engraving in mezzotinto was introduced into England, by prince Rupert, it was carried to much perfection there. John Smith, who lived towards the end of the 17th century, has left more than 500 pieces in this style. He and George White formed a new epoch in the art, which the latter particularly improved, by first etching the plates, whereby they acquired more spirit. Of late years, many artists in England have devoted themselves to this branch: among these are McArdell, Honston, Earlom, Pether, Green, Watson, Dickinson, Dixon, Hudson, J. Smith, &c. (For 'a list of the most distinguished engravers, from the earliest times, see Elmes, Dictionary of the Fine Arts, article Engraving.)