Trivium Art History
Mediums

Drypoint

Soft 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

The Good Samaritan

Rembrandt van Rijn1633
The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds

The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds

Rembrandt van Rijn1634
The Hundred Guilder Print

The Hundred Guilder Print

Rembrandt van Rijn1649
Christ Crucified between the Two Thieves: The Three Crosses

Christ Crucified between the Two Thieves: The Three Crosses

Rembrandt van Rijn1660
Architecture, Perspectives, Grotesques, Antiquities

Architecture, Perspectives, Grotesques, Antiquities

Giovanni Battista Piranesi1749
In the Omnibus

In the Omnibus

Mary Cassatt1890-1891
The Letter

The Letter

Mary Cassatt1890-1891
The Coiffure (La Toilette)

The Coiffure (La Toilette)

Mary Cassatt1890-1891
The Hat Secured with a Pin

The Hat Secured with a Pin

Pierre-Auguste Renoir1894
Peasant War print 5: Outbreak

Peasant War print 5: Outbreak

Käthe Kollwitz1903
Peasant War print 3: Whetting the Scythe

Peasant War print 3: Whetting the Scythe

Käthe Kollwitz1905
Peasant War print 4: Seizing Weapons

Peasant War print 4: Seizing Weapons

Käthe Kollwitz1906
Peasant War print 6: Battlefield

Peasant War print 6: Battlefield

Käthe Kollwitz1907
Peasant War print 2: Raped

Peasant War print 2: Raped

Käthe Kollwitz1907-1908
Peasant War print 7: The Prisoners

Peasant War print 7: The Prisoners

Käthe Kollwitz1908

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