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DrypointSoft marks from scarring metal

Drypoint is perhaps the simplest form of Intaglio—the printmaking practice of making marks on a metal plate, wiping ink across the plate so that it sticks to the marks, and then printing the ink onto paper or cloth. While the most common form of intaglio is etching, which uses acid to cut lines into the plate, drypoint is certainly the most direct. Using a sharp, pointed stylus, the artist simply scratches their drawing directly into the plate, which leaves a raised, rough edge of metal called the burr. Ink is trapped more loosely by the drypoint burr than in the clean grooves left by etching with acid, so drypoint prints often have a blurry, fuzzy quality to their lines.

The first examples of drypoint printing come from a German artist in the 15th-century, known as the Housebook Master, who made ninety-one prints using the technique. The master printmaker Albrecht Dürer made only three prints using drypoint, possibly because after repeated printing the burr wears down, leaving successive prints weaker. Rembrandt is often considered the first master of drypoint, combining it with etching to create, deep expressive scenes that evolved with every printing. 

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The Good Samaritan

Rembrandt van Rijn, 1633

The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds

Rembrandt van Rijn, 1634

The Hundred Guilder Print

Rembrandt van Rijn, 1649

Christ Crucified between the Two Thieves: The Three Crosses

Rembrandt van Rijn, 1660

Architecture, Perspectives, Grotesques, Antiquities

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, 1749

In the Omnibus

Mary Cassatt, 1890-1891

The Letter

Mary Cassatt, 1890-1891

The Coiffure (La Toilette)

Mary Cassatt, 1890-1891

The Hat Secured with a Pin

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1894

Peasant War print 5: Outbreak

Käthe Kollwitz, 1903

Peasant War print 3: Whetting the Scythe

Käthe Kollwitz, 1905

Peasant War print 4: Seizing Weapons

Käthe Kollwitz, 1906

Peasant War print 6: Battlefield

Käthe Kollwitz, 1907

Peasant War print 7: The Prisoners

Käthe Kollwitz, 1908

Peasant War print 2: Raped

Käthe Kollwitz, 1907-1908

More Art Mediums

Ink

From the caves to the desktop

Pencil

Charcoal

The quickest way to make a mark

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