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Title: A Treatise on Etching
Author: Lalanne, Maxime
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Treatise on Etching" ***

              A TREATISE ON ETCHING.

   "Amongst Frenchmen Claude is the best landscape etcher of past
  days, and Lalanne the best of the present day."--P. G. HAMERTON.

  [Illustration: Frontispiece]

                   A TREATISE

                TEXT AND PLATES
                MAXIME LALANNE.

         *       *       *       *       *

                 S. R. KOEHLER.


         *       *       *       *       *

                  ESTES AND LAURIAT,

                BY ESTES AND LAURIAT.

                  UNIVERSITY PRESS:


So much interest has of late years been shown in England in the art of
etching, that it seems hardly necessary to apologize for bringing out an
English edition of a work on the subject from the pen of an artist whom
a weighty English authority has pronounced to be the best French
landscape-etcher of the day. It might be urged, indeed, that more than
enough has already been written concerning the technical as well as the
æsthetic side of etching. But this objection is sufficiently met by the
statement of the fact that there is no other work of the kind in which
the processes involved are described in so plain and lucid a manner as
in M. Lalanne's admirable "_Traité de la Gravure à l'Eau-forte_." In the
laudable endeavor to be complete, most of the similar books now extant
err in loading down the subject with a complicated mass of detail which
is more apt to frighten the beginner than to aid him. M. Lalanne's
_Treatise_, on the contrary, is as simple as a good work of art.

It may, however, be incumbent upon me to offer a few words of excuse
concerning my own connection with the bringing out of this translation;
for, at first sight, it will, no doubt, appear the height of
presumption, especially on the part of one who is not himself a
practising artist, to add an introductory chapter and notes to the work
of a consummate master on his favorite art. But what I have done has
not, in any way, been dictated by the spirit of presumption. The reasons
which induced me to make the additions may be stated as follows.

It is a most difficult feat for one who has thoroughly mastered an
accomplishment, and has practised it successfully for a lifetime, to
lower himself to the level of those who are absolutely uninformed. A
master is apt to forget that he himself had to learn certain things
which, to him, seem to be self-evident, and he therefore takes it for
granted that they _are_ self-evident. A practised etcher thinks nothing
of handling his acid, grounding and smoking his plate, and all the other
little tricks of the craft which, to a beginner, are quite worrying and
exciting. It seemed to me best, therefore, to acquaint the student with
these purely technical difficulties, without complicating his first
attempts by artistic considerations, and hence the origin of the
"Introductory Chapter." Very naturally I was compelled, in this chapter,
to go over much of the ground covered by the _Treatise_ itself. But the
diligent student, who remembers that "Repetition is the mother of
learning," will not look upon the time thus occupied as wasted.

The notes are, perhaps, still more easily explained. M. Lalanne very
rarely stops to inform his reader how the various requisites may be
made. Writing, as he did, at and for Paris, there was, indeed, no reason
for thus encumbering his book; for in Paris the Veuve Cadart is always
ready to supply all the wants of the etcher. For a London reader, Mr.
Charles Roberson, of 99 Long Acre, whom Mr. Hamerton has so well--and
very properly--advertised, is ready to perform the same kind office. But
for those who live away from the great centres of society, it may
oftentimes be necessary either to forego the fascinations of etching, or
else to provide the materials with their own hands. For the benefit of
such persons, I have thought it advisable to describe, in the notes, the
simplest and cheapest methods of making the tools and utensils which are
needed in the execution of M. Lalanne's precepts.

By the arrangement of the paragraphs which I have ventured to introduce,
M. Lalanne's pleasant little book has, perhaps, lost something of its
vivacity and freshness, especially in the fifth chapter. But this dull,
methodical order will be found, I hope, to add to the convenience of the
work as a book of reference, which, according to M. Lalanne's own
statement, is, after all, its main object.

It is due to the English public to say, that the additions were
originally written for the American edition of this book, published by
Messrs. Estes & Lauriat, of Boston, Mass. To free them from the American
character which they very naturally bear, would have necessitated the
resetting of a great part of the work, and a consequent increase in its
cost. It has been deemed advisable, therefore, to leave the whole of the
text in its original condition, more especially as the changes are such
that they can easily be supplied by the reader, and do not in the least
affect the value of the information conveyed.

                                                            S. R. KOEHLER.

             July, 1880.


  TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE                                               v
    1. Definition of Etching                                      xiii
    2. Requisites                                                  xiv
    3. Grounding the Plate                                       xviii
    4. Smoking the Plate                                         xviii
    5. Points or Needles                                           xix
    6. Drawing on the Plate                                        xix
    7. Preparing the Plate for the Bath                             xx
    8. The Bath                                                     xx
    9. Biting and Stopping Out                                      xx
  DESCRIPTION OF THE PLATES                                      xxiii
  LETTER BY M. CHARLES BLANC                                       xxv
  INTRODUCTION  (by the Author)                                      1



    1. Definition                                                    3
    2. Knowledge needed by the Etcher                                3
    3. Manner of using the Needle.--Character of Lines               4
    4. Freedom of Execution                                          4
    5. How to produce Difference in Texture                          5
    6. The Work of the Acid                                          5
    7. The Use of the Dry Point                                      5
    8. Spirit in which the Etcher must work                          5
    9. Expression of Individuality in Etching                        6
   10. Value of Etching to Artists                                   6
   11. Versatility of Etching                                        7
   12. Etching compared to other Styles of Engraving                 7
   13. Etching as a Reproductive Art                                 7



   14. Method of using this Manual                                   9

  A. _Tools and Materials._

   15. List of Tools and Materials needed                            9
   16. Quality and Condition of Tools and Materials                 10

  B. _Preparing the Plate._

   17. Laying the Ground, or Varnishing                             12
   18. Smoking                                                      13

  C. _Drawing on the Plate with the Needle._

   19. The Transparent Screen                                       14
   20. Needles or Points                                            14
   21. Temperature of the Room                                      15
   22. The Tracing                                                  16
   23. Reversing the Design                                         16
   24. Use of the Mirror                                            17
   25. Precautions to be observed while Drawing                     17
   26. Directions for Drawing with the Needle                       17



   27. Bordering the Plate                                          20
   28. The Tray                                                     20
   29. Strength of the Acid                                         20
   30. Label your Bottles!                                          21
   31. The First Biting                                             21
   32. The Use of the Feather                                       22
   33. Stopping Out                                                 22
   34. Effect of Temperature on Biting                              22
   35. Biting continued                                             23
   36. Treatment of the various Distances                           23
   37. The Crevé.--Its Advantages and Disadvantages                 24
   38. Means of ascertaining the Depth of the Lines                 24
   39. The Rules which govern the Biting are subordinated to
       various Causes                                               25
   40. Strong Acid and Weak Acid                                    25
   41. Strength of Acid in relation to certain Kinds of Work        26
   42. Last Stages of Biting                                        27



   43. Omissions.--Insufficiency of the Work so far done            29
   44. Transparent Ground for Retouching                            29
   45. Ordinary Ground used for Retouching.--Biting the Retouches   30
   46. Revarnishing with the Brush                                  31
   47. Partial Retouches.--Patching                                 31
   48. Dry Point                                                    32
   49. Use of the Scraper for removing the Bur thrown up by the
       Dry Point                                                    33
   50. Reducing Over-bitten Passages                                33
   51. The Burnisher                                                33
   52. Charcoal                                                     34
   53. The Scraper                                                  35
   54. Hammering Out (Repoussage)                                   35
   55. Finishing the Surface of the Plate                           35



   56. Stopping-out Varnish dropped on a Plate while Biting         37
   57. Revarnishing with the Roller for Rebiting                    37
   58. Revarnishing with the Roller in Cases of Partial Rebiting    38
   59. Revarnishing with the Dabber for Rebiting                    39
   60. Revarnishing with the Brush for Rebiting                     39
   61. Rebiting a Remedy only                                       39
   62. Holes in the Ground                                          39
   63. Planing out Faulty Passages                                  40
   64. Acid Spots on Clothing                                       41
   65. Reducing Over-bitten Passages and Crevés                     41



   66. Two Kinds of Biting                                          43
   67. Flat Biting.--One Point                                      44
   68. Flat Biting.--Several Points                                 44
   69. Biting with Stopping Out.--One Point                         44
   70. Biting with Stopping Out.--Several Points                    44
   71. Necessity of Experimenting                                   45
   72. Various other Methods of Biting                              45



  A. _Recommendations and Auxiliary Processes._

   73. The Roulette                                                 49
   74. The Flat Point                                               49
   75. The Graver or Burin                                          49
   76. Sandpaper                                                    50
   77. Sulphur Tints                                                50
   78. Mottled Tints                                                51
   79. Stopping-out before all Biting                               51

  B. _Zink Plates and Steel Plates._

   80. Zink Plates                                                  52
   81. Steel Plates                                                 52

  C. _Various other Processes._

   82. Soft Ground Etching                                          52
   83. Dry Point Etching                                            53
   84. The Pen Process                                              54



   85. Wax Proofs                                                   55
   86. The Printing-Press                                           55
   87. Natural Printing                                             56
   88. Artificial Printing                                          56
   89. Handwiping with Retroussage                                  57
   90. Tinting with a Stiff Rag                                     57
   91. Wiping with the Rag only                                     58
   92. Limits of Artificial Printing                                58
   93. Printing Inks                                                59
   94. Paper                                                        59
   95. Épreuves Volantes                                            60
   96. Proofs before Lettering                                      60
   97. Épreuves de Remarque                                         60
   98. Number of Impressions which a Plate is capable of yielding   60
   99. Steel-facing                                                 61
  100. Copper-facing Zink Plates                                    62

  NOTES. By the Translator                                          63

  LIST OF WORKS on the Practice and History of Etching              75

  A. Technical Treatises                                            75
  B. Historical and Theoretical                                     77
  C. Catalogues of the Works of the Artists                         77
  a. Dictionaries                                                   77
  b. Individual Artists                                             78



As explained in the Preface, this chapter has been added to enable the
beginner to master the most necessary technical elements of etching,
without complicating his first attempts by artistic considerations. Let
him learn how to use his ground, his points, and his acid, before he
endeavors to employ these requisites in the production of a work of art.

All the materials and tools necessary for making the experiment
described below can be bought at the following places:[A]--

  NEW YORK: Henry Leidel, Artist's Materials, 341 Fourth Avenue.
  PHILADELPHIA: Janentzky & Co., Artist's Materials, 1125 Chestnut
  BOSTON: J. H. Daniels, Printer, 223 Washington Street.

But any one living within reach of a druggist, a paint-shop, and a
hardware-store can do just as well with the exercise of a little
patience and a very little ingenuity. For the benefit of such persons
all the necessary directions will be given for making what it may be
impossible to buy.

  [A] In London, Mr. Hamerton recommends Mr. Charles Roberson, 99 Long

       *       *       *       *       *

1. =Definition of Etching.=--To be able to get an impression on paper
from a metal plate in a copper-plate printing-press, it is necessary to
sink the lines of the design below the surface of the plate, so that
each line is represented by a furrow. The plate is then inked all over,
care being taken to fill each furrow, and finally the ink is cautiously
wiped away from the surface, while the furrows are left charged with it.
A piece of moist paper pressed against a plate so prepared, will take
the ink up out of the furrows. The result is an impression. In
_engraving proper_ these furrows are cut into the plate by mechanical
means; in _etching_ chemical means are used for the same purpose. If
nitric acid is brought into contact with copper, the acid corrodes the
metal and finally eats it up altogether; if it is brought into contact
with wax or resinous substances, no action ensues. Hence, if we cover a
copper plate with a ground or varnish composed of wax and resinous
substances, and then draw lines upon this ground with a steel or iron
style or point, so that each stroke of the point lays bare the copper,
we shall have a drawing in lines of copper (which are affected by nitric
acid) on a ground of varnish (which is not thus affected). If now we
expose the plate to the action of nitric acid for a certain length of
time, we shall find, upon the removal of the ground by means of benzine,
that the lines have been _bitten into_ the plate, so that each line
forms a furrow capable of taking up the ink. The depth and the breadth
of the lines depends upon the thickness of the points used, and upon the
length of time allowed for biting; or, in other words, by varying the
size of the points and the time of exposure the lines may also be made
to vary. This is the whole of the _science_ of etching in a nutshell.

2. =Requisites.=--The following tools and materials are the only ones
which are absolutely necessary for a first experiment:--

1. A COPPER PLATE on which to execute your etching. Do not waste your
money on a large plate. A visiting-card plate is sufficiently large. If
you happen to have an engraved plate of that kind, you can use the back
of it. If you have none, get one at a card-engraver's. The price ought
not to be over fifteen cents. If you do not live in any of the large
cities named above, or cannot find a card-engraver, send fifteen cents
in stamps to Mr. Geo. B. Sharp, 45 Gold St., New York, N. Y., who will
forward a plate to you by mail. Be very particular in giving your full
and correct _post-office_ address. These plates only need cleaning to
fit them for use.

2. BENZINE, used for cleaning the plate, sold by grocers or druggists at
about five cents a pint for common quality.

3. WHITING or SPANISH WHITE, also for cleaning the plate. A very small
quantity will do.

4. CLEAN COTTON RAGS.--Some pieces of soft old shirting are just the

5. ETCHING-GROUND, with which to protect the plate against the action of
the acid. This ground is sold in balls about the size of a walnut. If
you do not live in a city where you can buy the ground, you may as well
make it yourself. Here is a recipe for a very cheap and at the same time
very good ground. It is the ground used by Mr. Peter Moran, one of the
most experienced of our American etchers. Buy at a drug-shop (not an
apothecary's) or painter's supply-store:--

Two ounces best natural asphaltum (also called Egyptian asphaltum),
worth about ten cents.

One and a half ounces best white virgin wax, worth about six cents.

One ounce Burgundy pitch, worth say five cents.

Break the wax into small pieces, and reduce the Burgundy pitch to fine
powder in a mortar, or have it powdered at the drug-shop. Take a clean
earthenware pot glazed on the inside, with a handle to it (in Boston you
can buy one for fifteen cents at G. A. Miller & Co.'s, 101 Shawmut
Avenue), and in this pot melt your asphaltum over a slow fire, taking
very good care not to let it boil over, or otherwise you might possibly
set the house afire. When the asphaltum has melted add the wax
gradually, stirring all the while with a clean glass or metal rod. Then
add the Burgundy pitch in the same way. Keep stirring the fluid mass,
and let it boil up two or three times, always taking care to prevent
boiling over! Then pour the whole into a pan full of tepid water, and
while it is still soft and pliant, form into balls of the required size,
working all the while under the water. If you touch the mass while it is
still too hot, you may possibly burn your fingers, but a true enthusiast
does not care for such small things. You will thus get about eight or
nine balls of very good ground at an outlay of about thirty-six cents in
cash, and some little time. Nearly all recipes order the wax to be
melted first, but as the asphaltum requires a greater heat to reduce it
to a fluid condition, it is best to commence with the least tractable
substance. For use, wrap a ball of the ground in a piece of fine and
close silk (taffeta), and tie this together with a string.

6. MEANS OF HEATING THE PLATE.--Any source of heat emitting no smoke
will do, such as a kitchen stove, a spirit lamp, or a small quantity of
alcohol poured on a plate and ignited (when the time arrives).

7. A HAND VICE with a wooden handle, for holding the plate while heating
it; price about seventy-five cents at the hardware-stores. But a small
monkey-wrench will do as well, and for this experiment you can even get
along with a pair of pincers.

8. A DABBER for laying the ground on the plate. Cut a piece of stout
card-board, two or three inches in diameter; on this lay a bunch of
horse-hair, freed from all dust, and over this again some cotton wool.
Cover the whole with one or two pieces of clean taffeta (a clean piece
of an old silk dress will do), draw them together tightly over the
card-board, and tie with a string. When finished the thing will look
something like a lady's toilet-ball. The horse-hair is not absolutely
necessary, and may be omitted.

9. MEANS OF SMOKING THE GROUND.--The ground when laid on the plate with
the dabber, is quite transparent and allows the glitter of the metal to
shine through. To obtain a better working surface the ground is
blackened by smoking it. For this purpose the thin wax-tapers known to
Germans as "Wachsstock," generally sold at German toy-stores, are the
best. They come in balls. Cut the tapers into lengths, and twist six of
them together. In default of these tapers, roll a piece of cotton cloth
into a roll about as thick and as long as your middle finger, and soak
one end of it in common lamp or sperm oil.

10. STOPPING-OUT VARNISH, used for protecting the back and the edges of
the plate, and for "stopping out," of which more hereafter. If you
cannot buy it you can make it by dissolving an ounce of asphaltum, the
same as that used for the ground, in about an ounce and a half of
spirits of turpentine. Add the asphaltum to the turpentine little by
little; shake the bottle containing the mixture frequently; keep it in
the sun or a moderately warm place. The operation will require several
days. The solution when finished should be of the consistency of thick

11. CAMEL'S-HAIR BRUSHES, two or three of different sizes, for laying on
the stopping-out varnish, and for other purposes.

12. ETCHING POINTS OR NEEDLES, for scratching the lines into the ground.
Rat-tail files of good quality, costing about twenty cents each at the
hardware-stores, are excellent for the purpose. Two are all you need for
your experiment, and even one will be sufficient. Still cheaper points
can be made of sewing, knitting, or any other kind of needles, mounted
in sticks of wood like the lead of a lead-pencil. Use glue or
sealing-wax to fasten them in the wood.

13. AN OIL-STONE for grinding the points.

14. AN ETCHING-TRAY to hold the acid during the operation of biting.
Trays are made of glass, porcelain, or india-rubber, and can generally
be had at the photographer's supply-stores. A small india-rubber tray,
large enough for your experiment, measuring four by five inches, costs
fifty-five cents. But you can make an excellent tray yourself of paper.
Make a box, of the required size and about one and a half inches high,
of pasteboard, covered over by several layers of strong paper, well
glued on. If you can manage to make a lip or spout in one of the
corners, so much the better. After the glue has well dried pour
stopping-out varnish into the box, and float it all over the bottom and
the sides; pour the residue of the varnish back into your bottle, and
allow the varnish in the box to dry; then paint the outside of the box
with the same varnish. Repeat this process three or four times. Such a
tray, with an occasional fresh coating of varnish, will last forever.
For your experiment, however, any small porcelain (_not_ earthenware) or
glass dish will do, if it is only large enough to hold your plate, and
allow the acid to stand over it to the height of about half an inch.

15. A PLATE-LIFTER, to lift your plate into and out of the bath without
soiling your fingers. It consists of two pieces of string, each say
twelve to fifteen inches long, tied to two cross-pieces of wood, each
about six inches long, thus [Illustration]. It is well to keep the
fingers out of the acid, as it causes yellow spots on the skin, which
remain till they wear off.

16. NITRIC ACID for biting in the lines. Any nitric acid sold by
druggists will do, but the best is the so-called chemically pure nitric
acid made by Messrs. Powers & Weightman, of Philadelphia. It comes put
up in glass-stoppered bottles, the smallest of which hold one pound, and
sell for about sixty cents.

17. WATER for mixing with the acid and for washing the plate.

18. BLOTTING-PAPER, soft and thick, several sheets, to dry the plate, as
will be seen hereafter.

etching, but it is well to have it at hand, in case you should spatter
your clothes with acid. Spots produced by the acid can generally be
removed by rubbing with the alkali, which neutralizes the acid.

3. =Grounding the Plate.=--Having procured all these requisites, the
first thing to do will be to clean the plate so as to remove any oil or
other impurities that may have been left on it by the plate-maker. Wash
and rub it well on both sides with a soft cotton rag and benzine, and
then rub with whiting, as you would do if you were to clean a
door-plate. Take care to remove all the whiting with a clean rag. Now
take hold of your plate by one of its corners with the hand-vice,
wrench, or pincers, between the jaws of which you have put a bit of
card-board or stout paper, so as not to mark the plate. Hold it over the
stove, spirit lamp, or ignited alcohol, and see to it that it is heated
evenly throughout. Hold the plate in your left hand while heating it,
and with the other press against it the ball of ground wrapped up in
silk. As soon as you see the ground melting through the silk, distribute
it over the plate by rubbing the ball all over its surface (the
_polished_ surface, as a matter of course), taking care the while that
the plate remains just hot enough to melt the ground. If it is too hot,
the ground will commence to boil and will finally burn. The bubbles
caused by boiling are liable to leave air-holes in the ground through
which the acid may bite little holes in the plate; burning ruins the
ground altogether, so that it loses its power of withstanding the acid.
After you have distributed the ground tolerably evenly, and in a thin
layer, lay the plate down on the table (keeping hold of it, however, by
the corner), and finish the distribution of the ground by dabbing with
the dabber. Strike the plate quickly and with some force at first, and
treat it more gently as the ground begins to cool. If it should have
cooled too much, before the distribution is accomplished to your
satisfaction, in which case the dabber will draw threads, heat the plate
gently. The dabber not only equalizes the distribution of the varnish,
but also removes what is superfluous. An extremely thin layer of ground
is sufficient.

4. =Smoking the Plate.=--While the plate is yet hot, and the ground
soft, it must be smoked. Light your tapers or your oil torch, and turn
the plate upside down. Allow the flame just to touch the plate, and keep
moving it about rapidly, so that it may touch all points of the
plate, without remaining long at any one of them. If this precaution is
ignored, the ground will be burned, with the result before stated. The
smoking is finished as soon as the plate is uniformly blackened all
over, and the glimmer of the metal can no longer be seen through the
ground. Now allow the plate to cool so that the ground may harden.
_Avoid dust as much as possible_ while grounding and smoking the plate.
Particles of dust embedded in the ground may cause holes which will
admit the acid where you do not wish it to act.

5. =Points or Needles.=--The plate is now ready for drawing upon it, but
before you can proceed to draw you must prepare your points or needles.
Two will do for this first experiment, a fine one and a coarse one. For
the fine one you may use a sewing-needle, for the coarser one a medium
embroidery needle, both set in wood so that the points project about a
quarter of an inch. If you are going to use rat-tail files, grind the
handle-ends on your oil-stone until they attain the requisite fineness.
Hold the file flat on the stone, so as to get a gradually tapering
point, and turn continually. See to it that even the point of your
finest needle is not too sharp. If it scratches when you draw it lightly
over a piece of card-board, describe circles with it on the board until
it simply makes a mark without scratching. The coarse needle must be
evenly rounded, as otherwise it may have a cutting point somewhere.

[Illustration: Plate A.]

6. =Drawing on the Plate.=--As the purpose of your experiment is simply
to familiarize yourself with the _technicalities_ of etching, that is to
say, with the preparation of the plate, the management of the points,
and the action of the acid, it will be well to confine yourself to the
drawing of lines something like those on Pl. A. It is the office of the
point simply to _remove_ the ground, and _lay bare the copper_. But this
it must do thoroughly, for the slightest covering left on the plate will
prevent the acid from attacking the copper. You must therefore use
sufficient pressure to accomplish this end, but at the same time you
must avoid cutting into the copper by using too much pressure. Wherever
the point has cut the copper the acid acts more rapidly, as the polished
coating of the surface of the plate has been removed. It is evident from
this that an even pressure is necessary to produce an evenly bitten
line. Do not touch the ground with your hands while drawing. Rest your
hand on three or four thicknesses of soft blotting-paper. When you
desire to shift the paper, _lift it_, and _never draw it_ over the
ground. Hold the point, not slantingly like a pencil, but as near as
possible perpendicularly. The point is a hard instrument, with which you
cannot produce a swelling line, as with a pencil or a pen. Therefore
your only aim must be an _even_ line, produced by _even pressure_. The
minute threads of ground thrown up by the point you must remove with
your largest camel's-hair brush; otherwise they may clog your lines.
Before commencing to draw read the description of Pl. A given under the
heading "Description of Plates."

7. =Preparing the Plate for the Bath.=--If you were to put the plate
into the acid bath in the state in which it is at present, the acid
would corrode the unprotected parts. To prevent this paint the back, and
the corner by which you held the plate while grounding it, and the edges
with stopping-out varnish. If you are not in a hurry (_and it is always
best not to be in a hurry_), let the varnish dry over night; if you
cannot wait so long an hour will be sufficient for drying. While the
plate is drying you may lay it, face downward, on a little pile of soft
paper, made up of pieces smaller than the plate, so that the paper may
not touch the varnished edges.

8. =The Bath.=--The preparation of the bath is next in order. Ascertain
the capacity of the dish or tray you are going to use by pouring water
into it to fill it to half its height, and then measuring the water.
Pour _one half_ of this quantity of water back into the tray, and add to
it the same quantity of nitric acid, stirring the mixture well with a
glass rod, or a bit of glass, or a bird's feather, if you happen to have
one, or in default of all these with a bit of stick. The mixing of water
and acid induces chemical action, and this produces heat. The bath must
therefore be allowed to cool half an hour or so, before the plate is put
into it. Nitric acid being a corrosive and poisonous fluid, it is well
to use some care in handling it. Otherwise it may bite holes into your
clothing, and disfigure your hands, as before noted. By the side of your
bath have a large vessel filled with clean water, in which to wash the
plate when it is withdrawn from the bath, and your fingers in case you
should soil them with acid.

9. =Biting and Stopping Out.=--The bath having been prepared, and the
varnish on the back and edges of the plate having dried sufficiently,
lay the plate on the plate-lifter, face upward, and lift it into the
bath. In a few minutes, in hot weather in a few seconds, the acid will
begin to act on the copper. This is made evident to the eye by the
bubbles which collect in the lines, and to the nose by the fumes of
nitrous acid which the bath exhales. The bubbles must be removed by
gently brushing them out of the lines with a brush or the vane of a
feather; the fumes it is best not to inhale, as they irritate the
throat. After the biting has gone on for three minutes in warm, or for
five minutes in cold weather, lift the plate out of the bath into the
vessel filled with water. Having washed it well, so as to remove all
traces of the acid, lay it on a piece of blotting-paper, and take up the
moisture from the face by gently pressing another piece of the same
paper against it. Then fan the plate for some minutes to make sure that
it is absolutely dry. If you have a pair of bellows you may dispense
with the blotting-paper as well as with the fanning. The lines on the
plate, having all bitten for the same length of time, are now all of
about the same depth, and if the plate were cleaned and an impression
taken from it, they would all appear of about the same strength, the
only difference being that produced by difference in spacing and in the
size of the needles. This is the point where the stopping-out varnish
comes in. With a fine camel's-hair brush _stop out_, that is to say,
paint over with stopping-out varnish, those lines or parts of lines
which are to remain as they are. If the varnish should be too thick to
flow easily from the brush, mix a small quantity of it in a paint
saucer, or on a porcelain slab, or a piece of glass, with a few drops of
benzine. The varnish, however, must not be too thin, as in that case it
will run in the lines, and will fill them where you do not wish them to
be filled. If it is of the right consistency, you can draw a clean and
sharp line across the etched lines without danger of running. When you
have laid on your stopping-out varnish, fan it for some minutes until it
has dried sufficiently not to adhere to the finger when lightly touched.
Then introduce the plate into the bath again, and let the biting
continue another five minutes. Remove again, stop out as before, and
continue these operations as often as you wish. But it would be useless
to let your accumulated bitings on this experimental plate exceed more
than thirty minutes. Having finished your last biting, clean the plate
with benzine. Then apply the same process to your hands, and follow it
up with a vigorous application of soap and nail-brush. This will leave
your hands as beautiful as they were before.

It is hardly worth while to bother with taking an impression from this
trial plate, unless you happen to have a printer near by. The plate
itself will show you how the acid has enlarged the lines at each
successive biting, and it stands to reason that the broader and deeper
lines should give a darker impression than the finer and shallower ones.
If, however, you have no printer at hand, and still desire to see how
your work looks in black and white, you may consult the chapter on
"Proving and Printing," p. 55 of M. Lalanne's "Treatise."

       *       *       *       *       *

You have now gained some idea of the theory of etching, have acquainted
yourself with the use of tools and materials, and have mastered the most
elementary technical difficulties of the process. You are therefore in a
position to profit by the teachings of M. Lalanne which follow.

In conclusion, let me assure you that the home-made appliances described
in the foregoing paragraphs are quite sufficient, technically, for the
purposes of the etcher. Plate B, Mr. Walter F. Lansil's first essay in
etching, was executed according to the directions here given, and the
artist has kindly consented to let me use it for the special purpose of
illustrating this point.

[Illustration: Plate B.]


PLATE A. _A Trial Plate._ This plate is given to show the effect of
difference in length of biting. The lines in the eight upper rectangles
were all drawn before the first immersion of the plate, those on the
left with a fine point, those on the right with a somewhat coarser one.
After the plate had been in the bath for three minutes, it was
withdrawn, and the upper rectangle on the left stopped out. The upper
rectangle on the right, however, had hardly been attacked by the acid,
as the lines had been drawn with a blunter point, which had not
scratched the copper, while the fine point had. It was therefore allowed
to bite another three minutes before it was stopped out. The other
rectangles were allowed to bite ten, twenty, and thirty minutes
respectively, by which means the difference in value was produced. The
figures _a_, _b_, _c_ perhaps show the results of partial biting still
better. The three were simply lined with the same point. After the first
biting they all looked like _a_. This was then stopped out, together
with the corners of _b_ and _c_. After the second biting _b_ and _c_
were both as _b_ now is. The whole of _b_ was now stopped out, and part
of _c_, allowing only the inner lozenge to remain exposed to the acid.
It is evident that the difference in color in these figures is not due
to the drawing, but is entirely the result of biting.

PLATE B. _Vessels in Boston Harbor._ A first essay in etching by Mr.
Walter F. Lansil, marine painter, of Boston. The artist has kindly given
me permission to use this plate, for the purpose of showing that the
home-made tools and materials described in the Introductory Chapter are
quite sufficient for all the technical purposes of the etcher. It is
eminently "home-made." The ground was prepared according to the recipe
given; the points used were a sewing-needle and a knitting-needle; the
tray in which it was etched was made of paper covered with stopping-out
varnish; even the plate (a zink plate by the way) did not come from the
plate-maker, but was ground and polished at home.

PLATE I_a_. _Etching after Claude Lorrain._ _Unfinished plate_, or
"first state" (see pp. 23 and 29). This, however, is not the etching
itself; it is a photo-engraving from the unfinished etching. But it does
well enough to show the imperfections alluded to by M. Lalanne in the

PLATE I. _Etching after Claude Lorrain._ _Finished plate_, or "second
state" (see pp. 36 and 56). Clean wiped.

PLATE II. _Etching after Claude Lorrain._ Printed from the same plate as
Pl. I, but treated as described on p. 57. The difference between the two
plates shows what the art of the printer can do for an etching. The
difference would be still greater if Pl. II. were better printed; for it
is not printed as well as it might be, although it was done in Paris.

PLATE III. _À plat, une pointe_--flat biting, drawn with one point; that
is to say, the plate was immersed only once, and the lines are all the
result of the same needle, so that the effect is only produced by
placing the lines close together in the foreground, and farther apart as
the distance recedes (see p. 43). _À plat, plusieurs pointes_--flat
biting, several points, that is to say, one immersion only, but the work
of finer and coarser points is intermingled in the drawing. _Par
couvertures, plusieurs pointes_--stopping out and the work of several
points combined.

PLATE IV. _Fig. 1._ See p. 27. _Fig. 2._ See p. 45. _Figs. 3, 4 and 5._
See p. 46.

PLATE V. _Fig. 1._ Worked with one point; effect produced by stopping
out (see p. 44). _Fig. 2._ Mottled tint in the building, &c., in the
foreground; stopping out before biting, in the sky (see p. 51).

PLATE VI. _Soft-ground etchings._ See p. 52.

PLATE VII. _Dry-point etching._ See p. 53.

PLATE VIII. _À Seville._ A sketch, given as a specimen of printing (see
p. 58).

PLATE IX. _À Anvers._ _Le Haag, Amsterdam._ Sketches from nature, to
serve as examples.

PLATE X. (Frontispiece). _Souvenir de Bordeaux._ To be consulted in
regard to the manner of using the points and partial bitings.


  [B] This letter preceded also the first edition of 1866.

If there is any one living who can write about Etching, it must
certainly be you, as you possess all the secrets of the art, and are
versed in all its refinements, its resources, and its effects.
Nevertheless, when I was told that you intended to publish a book on the
subject, I feared that you were about to attempt the impossible; for it
seemed as if Abraham Bosse had exhausted the theme two hundred years
ago, and that you would be condemned to repeat all that this excellent
man had said in his treatise, in which, with charming _naïveté_, he
teaches _the art of engraving to perfection_.

I must confess, however, that the reading of your manuscript very
quickly undeceived me. I find in it numberless useful and interesting
things not to be found anywhere else, and I comprehend that Abraham
Bosse wrote for those who know, while you write for those who do not

I was quite young, and had just left college, when accident threw into
my hands the _Traité des manières de graver en taille douce sur l'airain
par le moyen des eaux fortes et des vernis durs et mols_. Perhaps I
might have paid no attention to this book, if I had not previously
noticed on the stands on the _Quai Voltaire_ some etchings by Rembrandt,
which had opened to me an entirely new world of poetry and of dreams.
These prints had taken such hold upon my imagination that I desired to
learn, from Bosse's "Treatise," how the Dutch painter had managed to
produce his strange and startling effects and his mysterious tones, the
fantastic play of his lights and the silence of his shadows. Rembrandt's
etchings on the one hand, and Bosse's book on the other, were the causes
of my resolution to learn the art of engraving, and of my subsequent
entry into the studio of Calamatta and Mercuri.

As soon as I knew how to hold the burin and the point, these grave and
illustrious masters placed before me an allegorical figure engraved by
Edelinck, whose drapery was executed in waving and winding lines,
incomparable in their correctness and beauty. To break my hand to the
work, it was necessary to copy on my plate these solemnly classical and
majestically disposed lines. But while I cut into the copper with
restrained impatience, my attention was secretly turned towards
Rembrandt's celebrated portrait of Janus Lutma, a good impression of
which I owned, and which I thought of copying.

To make my _début_ in this severe school--in which we were allowed to
admire only Marc Antonio, the Ghisis, the Audrans, and Nanteuil--with an
etching by Rembrandt, would have been a heresy of the worst sort. Hence
to be able to risk this infraction of discipline, I took very good care
to keep my project to myself. Secretly I bought ground, wax, and a
plate, and profited of the absence of my teachers to attempt, with
fevered hands, to make a fac-simile of the Lutma. I had followed the
instructions of Abraham Bosse with regard to the ground, and I proceeded
to bite in my plate with the assistance of a comrade, Charles
Nördlinger, at present engraver to the king of Wurtemburg, at Stuttgart,
whom I had admitted as my accomplice in this delightful expedition.

You may well imagine, my dear Monsieur Lalanne, that I met with all
sorts of accidents, such as are likely to befall a novice, and all of
which you describe so carefully, while at the same time you indicate
fully and lucidly the remedies that may be applied. The ground cracked
in several places,--happily in the dark parts. My wax border had been
hastily constructed, and I did not know then, although Bosse says so,
that it is the rule to pass a heated key along the lower line of the
border, so as to melt the wax, and thus render all escape impossible.
Consequently the acid filtered through under the wax, and in trying to
arrest the flow, I burned my fingers. Furthermore, when it came to the
biting in of the shadows in the portrait of Lutma, the greenish and then
whitish ebullition produced by the long-continued biting so frightened
me, that I hastened to empty the acid into a pail, not, however, without
having spattered a few drops on a proof of the _Vow of Louis XIII._,
which had been scratched in the printing, and which we were about to
repair. At last I removed the ground, and, trembling all over, went to
have a proof taken, but not to the printer regularly employed by

What a disappointment! I believed my etching to have been sufficiently,
nay, even over-bitten, and in reality I had stopped half-way. The color
of the copper had deceived me. I had seen my portrait on the fine red
ground of the metal, and now I saw it on the crude white of the paper. I
hardly knew it again. It lacked the profundity, the mystery, the harmony
in the shadows, which were precisely what I had striven for. The plate
was only roughly cut up by lines crossing in all directions, through the
network of which shone the ground which Rembrandt had subdued, so as to
give all the more brilliancy to the window with its leaded panes, to the
lights in the foreground, and to the cheek of the pensive head of Lutma.
As luck would have it, all the light part in the upper half of the print
came out pretty well; the expression of the face was satisfactory, and
the grimaces of the two small heads of monsters which surmount the back
of the chair were perfectly imitated. I had to strengthen the shadows by
means of the roulette, and to go over the most prominent folds of the
coat with the graver; for I had not the knowledge necessary to enable me
to undertake a second biting. Bosse says a few words on this subject,
which, as they are wanting in clearness, are apt to lead a beginner into
error. He speaks of smoked ground, while, as you have so admirably
shown, white ground must be used for retouching. I therefore finished my
plate by patching and cross-hatching and stippling, and finally obtained
a passable copy, which, at a little distance, looked something like the
original, although, to a practised eye, it was really nothing but a very
rude imitation. It is needless to say that we carefully obliterated all
evidence of our proceedings, and that, my teachers having returned, I
went to work again, with hypocritical compunction, upon what I called
the _military_ lines of Gerard Edelinck. But we were betrayed by some
incautious words of the chamber-woman, and M. Calamatta, having
discovered "the rose-pot," scolded Charles Nördlinger and myself roundly
for this romantic escapade. If my plate had been worse,----the good Lord
only knows what might have happened!

All this, my dear M. Lalanne, is simply intended to show to you how
greatly I esteem the excellent advice which you give to the young
etcher, or _aqua-fortiste_ (as the phrase goes now-a-days, according to
a neologism which is hardly less barbaric than the word _artistic_).
When I recall the efforts of my youth, the ardor with which I deceived
myself, the hot haste with which I fell into the very errors which you
point out, I understand that your book is an absolute necessity; and
that the artist or the amateur, who, hidden away in some obscure
province, desires to enjoy the agreeable pastime of etching, need only
follow, step by step, the intelligent and methodical order of your
precepts, to be enabled to carry the most complicated plate to a
satisfactory end, whether he chooses to employ the soft ground used by
Decamps, Masson, and Marvy, or whether he confines himself to the
ordinary processes which you make sensible even to the touch with a
lucidity, a familiarity with details, and a certainty of judgment, not
to be sufficiently commended.

Having read your "Treatise," I admit, not only that you have surpassed
your worthy predecessor, Abraham Bosse, but that you have absolutely
superseded his book by making your own indispensable. If only the
amateurs, whose time hangs heavily upon them; if the artists, who wish
to fix a fleeting impression; if the rich, who are sated with the
pleasures of photography,--had an idea of the great charm inherent in
etching, your little work would have a marvellous success! Even our
elegant ladies and literary women, tired of their do-nothing lives and
their nick-nacks, might find a relaxation full of attractions in the art
of drawing on the ground and biting-in their passing fancies. Madame de
Pompadour, when she had ceased to govern, although she continued to
reign, took upon herself a colossal enterprise,--to amuse the king and
to divert herself. You know the sixty-three pieces executed by this
charming engraver (note, if you please, that I do not say
_engraveress_!). Her etchings after Eisen and Boucher are exquisite. The
pulsation of life, the fulness of the carnations, are expressed in them
by delicately trembling lines; and I do think that Madame de Pompadour
could not have done better, even if she had been your pupil.

At present, moreover, etching has, in some measure, become the fashion
again as a substitute for lithography, an art which developed charm as
well as strength under the crayon of Charlet, of Géricault, of Gigoux,
and of Gavarni. The _Société des Aqua-fortistes_ is the fruit of this
renaissance. The art, which, in our own day, has been rendered
illustrious by the inimitable Jacque, now has its adepts in all
countries, and in all imaginable spheres of society. Etchings come to us
from all points of the compass: the Hague sends those of M. Cornet,
conservator of the Museum; Poland, those which form the interesting
album of M. Bronislas Zaleski, the _Life of the Kirghise Steppes_;
London, those of M. Seymour Haden, so original and full of life, and so
well described in the catalogue of our friend Burty; Lisbon, those of
King Ferdinand of Portugal, who etches as Grandville drew, but with
more suppleness and freedom. But after all Paris is the place where the
best etchings appear, more especially in the _Gazette des Beaux-Arts_,
and in the publications of the _Société des Aqua-fortistes_. Do you
desire to press this capricious process into your service for the
translation of the old or modern masters? Hédouin, Flameng, Bracquemont,
will do wonders for you. You have told me yourself that, in my _OEuvre
de Rembrandt_, Flameng has so well imitated this great man, that he
himself would be deceived if he should come to life again. As to Jules
Jacquemart, he is perfectly unique of his kind; he compels etching to
say what it never before was able to say. With the point of his needle
he expresses the density of porphyry; the coldness of porcelain; the
insinuating surface of Chinese lacquer; the transparent and imponderable
_finesse_ of Venetian glassware; the reliefs and the chased lines of the
most delicate works of the goldsmith, almost imperceptible in their
slightness; the polish of iron and steel; the glitter, the reflections,
and even the sonority of bronze; the color of silver and of gold, as
well as all the lustre of the diamond and all the appreciable shades of
the emerald, the turquoise, and the ruby. I shall not speak of you, my
dear monsieur, nor of your etchings, in which the style of Claude is so
well united to the grace of Karel Dujardin. You preach by practising;
and if one had only seen the plates with which you have illustrated your
excellent lessons, one would recognize not only the instructor but the
master. Hence, be without fear or hesitation; put forth confidently your
little book; it is just in time to help regenerate the art of etching,
and to direct its renaissance. For these reasons--mark my
prediction!--its success will be brilliant and lasting.



Since the year 1866, when the first edition of this treatise appeared,
the art of etching, which was then in full course of regeneration, has
gained considerably in extent. The tendencies of modern art must
necessarily favor the soaring flight of this method of engraving, which
has been left in oblivion quite too long. It remained for our
contemporary school to accord to it those honors which the school of the
first empire had denied to it, and which that of 1830 had given but
timidly. At the period last named some of our illustrious masters, by
applying their talent to occasional essays in etching, set an example
which our own generation, expansive in its aspirations, and anxiously
desirous of guarding the rights of individuality, was quick to follow.

The _Gazette des Beaux Arts_ comprehended this movement, and contributed
to its extension by attracting to itself the artists who rendered
themselves illustrious by the work done for its pages, while, by a sort
of natural reciprocity, they shed around it the prestige of their
talents. The _Société des Aqua-fortistes_ (Etching Club), founded in
1863 by Alfred Cadart, has also, by the united efforts of many eminent
etchers, done its share towards bringing the practice of this art into
notice, and has popularized it in the world of amateurs, whose numbers
it has been instrumental in augmenting; while at the same time, owing to
the nature of its constitution, it has given material support to the
artists. Private collections have been formed, and are growing in
richness from day to day. Two royal artists, King Ferdinand of Portugal
and King Charles XV. of Sweden, have, through their works, taken an
active part in the renewal of etching; they were the happy sponsors of a
publication which, under the name of _L'Illustration Nouvelle_, follows
in the footsteps, and continues the traditions, of the _Société des

Similar societies, organized in England and in Belgium,[1] are
prospering. On the other hand, a great number of art journals, of books,
and of albums, owe their success to the use made in them of etchings.
This is true also of those special editions which are sumptuously
printed in small numbers, and are the delight of lovers of books.

Etching has thus taken a position in modern art which cannot fail to
become still more important. "Everything has been said," wrote La
Bruyère, concerning the works of the pen, "and we can only glean after
the poets." The literature of two centuries has given the lie to the
assertion of the celebrated moralist, and it may also be affirmed that
etching has not yet spoken its last word. Not only has it no need of
gleaning after the old masters, but it may rather seek for precious
models in the works of our contemporary etchers. In their experience may
be found fruit for the present as well as useful information for the

[Illustration: AN ETCHER'S STUDIO.

From the Third Edition of Abraham Bosse's "Treatise," Paris, 1758.]




1. =Definition.=--An etching is a design fixed on metal by the action of
an acid. The art of etching consists, in the first place, in drawing,
with a _point_ or _needle_, upon a metal plate, which is perfectly
polished, and covered with a layer of varnish, or ground, blackened by
smoke; and, secondly, in exposing the plate, when the drawing is
finished, to the action of nitric acid. The acid, which does not affect
fatty substances but corrodes metal, eats into the lines which have been
laid bare by the needle, and thus the drawing is _bitten in_. The
varnish is then removed by washing the plate with spirits of
turpentine,[2] and the design will be found to be engraved, as it were,
on the plate. But, as the color of the copper is misleading, it is
impossible to judge properly of the quality of the work done until a
_proof_ has been taken.

2. =Knowledge needed by the Etcher.=--The aspirant in the art of
etching, having familiarized himself by a few trials with the appearance
of the bright lines produced by the needle on the dark ground of smoked
varnish, will soon go to work on his plate confidently and
unhesitatingly; and, without troubling himself much about the uniform
appearance of his work, he will gradually learn to calculate in advance
the conversion of his lines into lines more or less deeply bitten, and
the change in appearance which these lines undergo when transferred to
paper by means of ink and press.

It follows from this that the etcher must, from the very beginning of
his work, have a clear conception of the idea he intends to realize on
his plate, as the work of the needle must harmonize with the character
of the subject, and as the effect produced is finally determined by the
combination of this work with that of the acid.

The knowledge needed to bring about these intimate relations between the
needle, which produces the _drawing_, and the biting-in, which supplies
the _color_, constitutes the whole science of the etcher.

3. =Manner of Using the Needle.--Character of Lines.=--The needle or
point must be allowed to play lightly on the varnish, so as to permit
the hand to move with that unconcern which is necessary to great freedom
of execution. The use of a moderately sharp needle will insure lines
which are full and nourished in the delicate as well as in the vigorous
parts of the work. We shall thus secure the means of being simple. Nor
will it be necessary to depart from this character even in plates
requiring the most minute execution; all that is required will be a
finer point, and lines of a more delicate kind. But the spaces left
between the latter will be proportionately the same, or perhaps even
somewhat wider, so as to prevent the acid from confusing the lines by
eating away the ridges of metal which are left standing between the
furrows. Freshness and neatness depend on these conditions in small as
well as in large plates.

4. =Freedom of Execution.=--It is a well-known fact that the engraver
who employs the burin (or graver), produces lines on the naked copper or
steel which cross one another, and are measured and regular. It is a
necessary consequence of the importance of line-engraving, growing out
of its application to classical works of high style, that it should
always show the severity and coldness of positive and almost
mathematical workmanship. With etching this is not the case: the point
must be free and capricious; it must accentuate the forms of objects
without stiffness or dryness, and must delicately bring out the various
distances, without following any other law than that of a picturesque
harmony in the execution. It may be made to work with precision,
whenever that is needed, but only to be abandoned afterwards to its
natural grace. It will be well, however, to avoid over-excitement and
violence in execution, which give an air of slovenliness to that which
ought to be simply a revery.

5. =How to produce Difference in Texture.=--The manner of execution to
be selected must conform to the nature of the objects. This is
essential, as we have at our disposition only a point, the play of which
on the varnish is always the same. It follows that we must vary its
strokes, so as to make it express difference in texture. If we examine
the etchings of the old masters, we shall find that they had a special
way of expressing foliage, earth, rocks, water, the sky, figures,
architecture, &c., without, however, making themselves the slaves of too
constraining a tradition.

6. =The Work of the Acid.=--After the subject has been drawn on the
ground, the acid steps in to give variety to the forms which were laid
out for it by the needle, to impart vibration to this work of uniform
aspect, and to inform it with the all-pervading warmth of life. In
principle, a single biting ought to be sufficient; but if the artist
desires to secure greater variety in the result by a succession of
partial bitings, the different distances may be made to detach
themselves from one another by covering up with varnish the parts
sufficiently bitten each time the plate is withdrawn from the bath. The
different parts which the mordant is to play must be regulated by the
feeling: discreet and prudent, it will impart delicacy to the tender
values; controlled in its subtle functions, it will carefully mark the
relative tones of the various distances; less restrained and used more
incisively, it will dig into the accentuated parts and will give them

7. =The Use of the Dry Point.=--If harmony has not been sufficiently
attained, the _dry point_ is used on the bare metal, to modify the
values incompletely rendered, or expressed too harshly. Its office is to
cover such insufficient passages with a delicate tint, and to serve, as
Charles Blanc has very well expressed it, as a _glaze_ in engraving.

8. =Spirit in which the Etcher must work.=--Follow your feeling, combine
your modes of expression, establish points of comparison, and adopt from
among the practical means at command (which depend on the effect, and on
which the effect depends) those which will best render the effect
desired: this is the course to be followed by the etcher. There is
plenty of the instinctive which practice will develop in him, and in
this he will find a growing charm and an irresistible attraction. What
happy effects, what surprises, what unforeseen discoveries, when the
varnish is removed from the plate! A bit of good luck and of
inspiration often does more than a methodical rule, whether we are
engaged on subjects of our own invention,--_capricci_, as the Italians
call them,--or whether we are drawing from nature directly on the
copper. The great aim is to arrive at the first onset at the realization
of our ideas as they are present in our mind. An etching must be
virginal, like an improvisation.

9. =Expression of Individuality in Etching.=--Having once mastered the
processes, the designer or painter need only carry his own individuality
into a species of work which will no longer be strange to him, there to
find again the expression of the talent which he displayed in another
field of art. He will comprehend that etching has this essentially vital
element,--and in it lies the strength of its past and the guaranty of
its future,--that, more than any other kind of engraving on metal, it
bears the imprint of the character of the artist. It personifies and
represents him so well, it identifies itself so closely with his idea,
that it often seems on the point of annihilating itself as a process in
favor of this idea. Rembrandt furnishes a striking example of this: by
the intermixture and diversity of the methods employed by him, he
arrived at a suavity of expression which may be called magical; he
diffused grace and depth throughout his work. In some of his plates the
processes lend themselves so marvellously to the severest requirements
of modelling, and attain such an extreme limit of delicacy, that the eye
can no longer follow them, thus leaving the completest enjoyment to the
intellect alone.

Claude Lorrain, on the other hand, knew how to conciliate freedom of
execution with majesty of style.

10. =Value of Etching to Artists.=--Speaking of this subordination of
processes in etching to feeling, I am induced to point out how many of
the masters of our time, judging by the character of their work, might
have added to their merits had they but substituted the etcher's needle
for the crayon. Was not Decamps, who handled the point but little, an
etcher in his drawings and his lithographs? Ingres only executed one
solitary etching, and yet, simply by virtue of his great knowledge, it
seems as if in it he had given a presentiment of all the secrets of the
craft. And did not Gigoux give us a foretaste of the work of the acid,
when he produced the illustrations to his "Gil Blas," conceived in the
spirit of an etcher, which, after thirty years of innumerable similar
productions, are still the _chef-d'oeuvre_ and the model of engraving
on wood. And would Mouilleron have been inferior, if from the stone he
had passed to the copper plate? It would be an easy matter to multiply
examples chosen from among the artists who have boldly handled the
needle, or from among those who might have taken it up with equal
advantage, to prove that etching is not, as it has been called, a
secondary method. There are no secondary methods for the manifestation
of genius.

11. =Versatility of Etching.=--The needle is the crayon; the acid adds
color. The needle is sometimes all the more eloquent because its means
of expression are confined within more restricted limits. It is familiar
and lively in the sketch, which by a very little must say a great deal;
the sketch is the spontaneous letter. It all but reaches the highest
expression when it is called in to translate a grand spectacle, or one
of those fugitive effects of light which nature seems to produce but
sparingly, so as to leave to art the merit of fixing them.

12. =Etching compared to other Styles of Engraving.=--By its very
character of freedom, by the intimate and rapid connection which it
establishes between the hand and the thoughts of the artist, etching
becomes the frankest and most natural of interpreters. These are the
qualities which make it an honor to art, of which it is a glorious
branch. All other styles of engraving can never be any thing but a means
of reproduction. We must admire the knowledge, the intelligence, and the
self-denial which the line-engraver devotes to the service of his art.
But, after all, it is merely the art of assimilating an idea which is
foreign to him, and of which he is the slave. By him the
_chefs-d'oeuvre_ of the masters are multiplied and disseminated, and
sometimes, in giving eternity to an original work, he immortalizes his
own name; but the part he has assumed inevitably excludes him from all
creative activity.

13. =Etching as a Reproductive Art.=--These reserves having been made in
regard to the engraver, whose instrument is the burin, justice requires
that the reproductive etcher should come in for his proportional share,
and that his functions should be defined. Some years ago, a school of
etchers arose among us, whose mission it is to interpret those works of
the brush which, by the delicacy and elegance of their character, cannot
be harmonized with the severity of the burin. This school, to which Mr.
Gaucherel gave a great impulse, has been called in to fill a regrettable
void in the collections of amateurs. Every one knows those remarkable
publications, _Les Artistes Contemporains_, and _Les Peintres Vivants_,
which, for the last twenty years, have reproduced in lithography the
_chefs-d'oeuvre_ of our exhibitions of paintings. To-day etching takes
the place of lithography; it excels in the reproduction of modern
landscapes, and of the _genre_ subjects which we owe to our most
esteemed painters. It is not less happy in the interpretation of certain
of the old masters, whose works make it impossible to approach them with
the burin. The catalogues of celebrated galleries which have lately been
sold also testify to the important services rendered to art by the
reproductive etcher. His methods are free and rapid; they are not
subjected to a severe convention of form. He may rest his own work on
the genius of others, so as to attain a success like that of the
painter-etcher; but the latter, as he bathes his inspiration in the acid
and triumphantly withdraws it, finds his power and his resources within
himself alone. He is at once the translator and the poet.



14. =Method of Using this Manual.=--As the general theory given in the
preceding chapter may seem too brief, and may convey but an incomplete
idea of the different operations involved in etching, I shall now
endeavor to formulate, in as concise a manner as possible, such
practical directions as I have had occasion to give to a young designer,
and to different other persons, in my own studio. I shall provide
successively for all the accidents which usually, or which may possibly,
occur. But the beginner need not trouble himself too much about the
apparent complication of detail which the following pages present. They
are intended, rather, to be consulted, like a dictionary, as occasion
arises. In all cases, however, it will be well, on reading the book, to
make immediate application of the various directions given, so as to
avoid all confusion of detail in the memory, and to escape the tedium of
what would otherwise be rather dry reading.


15. =List of Tools and Materials needed.=--To begin with, we must
provide ourselves with the following requisites:[3]--

  Copper plates.
  A hand-vice.
  Ordinary etching-ground and transparent ground in balls.
  Liquid stopping-out varnish.
  Brushes of different sizes.
  Two dabbers,--one for the ordinary varnish, the other for the white
  or transparent varnish.
  A wax taper.
  A needle-holder.
  Needles of various sizes.
  A dry point.
  A burnisher.
  A scraper.
  An oil-stone of best quality.
  A lens or magnifying-glass.
  An etching-trough made of gutta-percha or of porcelain.
  India-rubber finger-gloves.
  Nitric acid of forty degrees.
  Gelatine in sheets.
  Chalk or sanguine.
  Emery paper, No. 00 or 000.
  A roller for revarnishing, with its accessories.

  To these things we must add a supply of _old_ rags.

16. =Quality and Condition of Tools and Materials.=--Too much care
cannot be taken as regards the quality of the copper, which metal is
used by preference for etching. Soft copper bites slowly, while on hard
copper the acid acts more quickly and bites more deeply. It is to be
regretted that nowadays plates are generally rolled, which does not give
density enough to the metal. Formerly they were hammered, and the copper
was of a better quality. Thus hammered, the metal becomes hard, and is
less porous; its molecular condition is most favorable to the action of
the acid, the lines are purer, and even when the work is carried to the
extreme of delicacy, it is sure to be preserved in the biting.

English copper plates, and plates that have been replaned, are
excellent. It is a good plan to buy thick plates, of a dimension smaller
than that of the designs to be made, and to have them hammered out to
the required size. The plates thus obtained will not fail to be very

The vice must have a wooden handle, so as to prevent burning the

To meet all possible emergencies, lamp-black may be mixed with the
liquid stopping-out varnish (_petit vernis liquide_). Some engravers
find that it dries too quickly, and therefore, fearing that it may chip
off under the needle, use it only for stopping out; for retouching, they
employ a special retouching varnish (_vernis au pinceau_).[4]

For brushes, select such as are used in water-color painting.

The silk with which the dabbers are covered must be very fine in the

In order to protect his fingers, an engraver conceived the idea of
smoking his plates by means of the ends of several candles or wax tapers
placed together in the bottom of a little vessel: they furnish an
abundance of smoke, and can be extinguished by covering up the vessel.
The smoke of a wax taper is the best; it is excellent for small plates.

The needle-holder holds short points of various thicknesses, down to the
fineness of sewing-needles.

To sharpen an etching-needle, pass it over the oil-stone, holding it
down flat, and turning it continually. When it has attained a high
degree of sharpness, describe a large circle with it on a piece of
card-board, holding it fixed between the fingers this time, and go on
describing circles of a continually decreasing size. The nearer you
approach to the centre, the more vertical must be the position of the
needle. The fineness or the coarseness of the point is regulated by
keeping the needle away from, or bringing it nearer to, the central

The dry point must be ground with flat faces rather than round, so as to
cut the copper, and penetrate it with ease.

If the burnisher is not sufficiently polished, it scratches the copper,
and produces black spots in the proofs. To keep it in good condition,
cut two grooves, the size of the burnisher, in a piece of pine board.
Rub it up and down the first of these grooves, containing emery powder;
and then, to give it its final lustre, repeat the same process, with
tripoli and oil, in the second groove.

The stones which are too hard for razors are excellent for the scrapers.
Having sharpened the scraper with a little oil, during which operation
you must hold it down flat on the stone, pass it over your finger-nail.
If the touch discloses the presence of the least bit of tooth, and if
the tool does not glide along with the greatest ease, the grinding must
be continued, as otherwise the scraper will scratch the copper.

You are at liberty to use two troughs,--one for the acid bath; the
other, filled with water, for washing the plate.

A glass funnel, and a bottle with a ground-glass stopper, will be
necessary for filling in and keeping the etching liquid.

Various substances are used for finishing off the copper plates; the
most natural is the paste obtained by rubbing charcoal on the oil-stone
with oil.

Then comes the fine emery paper Nos. 00 or 000, rotten-stone, tripoli,
English red, and, finally, slate. Powdered slate, produced by simply
scraping with a knife, is excellent, used with oil and a fine rag, the
same as other substances.

The varnish for revarnishing is nothing but ordinary etching-ground,
dissolved in oil of lavender. It must be about as stiff as honey in

The rollers for revarnishing, which can be had of different sizes, are
cylindrical in form, and are terminated by two handles, which revolve in
the hands. The roller ought, if possible, to cover the whole surface of
the copper.[5] As soon as it has been used, it must be put out of the
way of the dust.

These various recommendations are by no means unnecessary, as the least
material obstacle may sometimes hinder the flight of the imagination. It
is well to be armed against all the troublesome vexations of the
handicraft; for the difficulties of the art are in themselves sufficient
to occupy our attention.


I shall now proceed to give the various talks which I had with my young

17. =Laying the Ground, or Varnishing.=--You have here a plate, I say to
him; I clean it with turpentine; then, having well wiped it with a piece
of fine linen, and having still further cleaned it by rubbing it with
Spanish white (or whiting), I fasten it into the vice by one of its
edges, taking care to place a tolerably thick piece of paper under the
teeth of the vice, so as to protect the copper against injury. I now
hold the plate with its back over this chafing-dish; but a piece of
burning paper, or the flame of a spirit-lamp, will do equally well. As
soon as the plate is sufficiently heated, I place upon its polished
surface this ball of ordinary etching-ground, wrapped up in a piece of
plain taffeta; the heat causes the ground to melt. If the plate is too
hot, the varnish commences to boil while melting; in that case, we must
allow the plate to cool somewhat, as otherwise the ground will be
burned. I pass the ball over the whole surface of the copper, taking
care not to overcharge the plate with the ground. Then, with the dabber,
I dab it in all directions; at first, vigorously and quickly, so as to
spread and equalize the layer of varnish; and finally, as the varnish
cools, I apply the dabber more delicately. The appearance of
inequalities, and of little protruding points in the ground, indicates
that it is laid on too thick, and the dabbing must be continued, until
we have obtained a perfectly homogeneous layer. This must be very
thin,--sufficient to resist strong biting, and yet allowing the point to
draw the very finest lines, which it will be difficult to do with too
much varnish.

18. =Smoking.=--Without waiting for the plate to cool, I turn it over,
and present its varnished side to the smoke of a torch or a wax taper,
which I hold at a distance of about two centimetres from the plate, so
as not to injure the varnish. I keep moving the flame about in all
directions, to avoid burning the varnish (which latter would take place
if the flame remained too long at the same point), and thus I obtain a
brilliant black surface. All the transparency is gone; we see neither
copper nor varnish, and this is a sign that our operation has succeeded.
All we need do now is to allow the plate to cool and the varnish to
harden, and then you can commence making your drawing.

You call my attention to the fact that the varnish, in cooling, loses
the brilliancy which it had in its liquid state. This is always the
case. And see the perfect neatness and evenness of the varnished and
smoked surface! Here is a plate which was spoiled in the smoking. The
first thing that strikes us is that we see the marks left by the passage
of the taper. At a pinch, these marks might, perhaps, be no
inconvenience to us in working; but here the brilliant black is broken
by very dull spots. These are places in which the varnish was burned;
it will scale off under the needle, and has lost the power of resisting
the acid. We must therefore clean this plate with spirits of turpentine,
and commence operations afresh.

The ground is blackened, because its natural transparency does not
permit us to see the work of the point. This work produces what might be
called a negative design; that is to say, a design in bright lines on a
black ground. This is rather perplexing at first, but you will soon
become accustomed to it.


19. =The Transparent Screen.=--You must place yourself so as to face
this window, and between you and it we must introduce, in an inclined
position, a transparent screen made of tracing paper stretched on a
wooden frame, which will prevent your seeing the window. This screen
will soften and strain the light; it will reduce the reflection of the
copper, and will allow you to see what you are doing.

In designing on the plate out of doors, the screen is unnecessary,
since, as the light falls equally upon the copper from all directions,
the reflection is done away with, and the copper does not dazzle the eye
as it does when the light emanates from a single source.

20. =Needles or Points.=--You may use a single needle, or you may use
several of different degrees of sharpness, even down to sewing-needles,
as you will see later on; but your work on the plate will always look
uniform, without distance and without relief. The modelling and coloring
of the design must be left to the acid.

The point must be held on the plate as perpendicularly as possible, as
the purity of the line depends on the angle of incidence which the point
makes with the copper; furthermore, it must be possible to direct it
freely and easily in all directions, and it is, therefore, necessary
that the needle should not be too sharp. To make sure of this, draw a
number of eights on the margin of your plate, or simply an oblique line
from below upwards in the direction of the needle. If it does not glide
along easily, if it attacks the copper and catches in it, you must
regrind it.

This is important, as in principle the function of the needle is to
trace the design by removing the varnish from the copper, while it must
avoid scratching it. By scratching the metal we encroach on the domain
of the acid, and inequality of work is the result, since the acid acts
more vigorously on those parts which have been scratched than on those
which have simply been laid bare. We must feel the copper under the
point, without, however, penetrating into it.

The opposite effect is produced if we operate too timidly. In this case
we do not reach the copper. We remove the blackened surface, and it
seems as if we had also removed the varnish, since we see the copper
shining through it. But we shall find later, from the fact that the acid
does not bite, that we did not bear heavily enough on the needle.

At first there is a tendency to proceed as in drawing on paper, giving
greater lightness to the touch of the point in the distances, and
bearing on it more vigorously in the foregrounds. But this is useless.

There are certain artists, nevertheless, who prefer to attack the copper
with cutting points in the finer as well as in the more vigorous parts
of their work, and to bite in with strong acid; others, again, dig
resolutely into the copper wherever they desire to produce a powerful
tone. Abraham Bosse, in applying etching to line-engraving, advises his
readers to cut the copper slightly in the lines which are to appear
fine, and to dig vigorously into the plate for those lines which are to
be very heavy, so that delicate as well as strong work may be obtained
at one and the same biting. As it is necessary in this sort of engraving
to retouch the heavy lines with the burin, we can understand that in the
way shown the work of the instrument named may be facilitated.

21. =Temperature of the Room.=--In summer the temperature softens the
varnish, and the needle works pliantly and easily; in winter the cold
hardens the varnish, so that it is apt to scale off under the point,
especially at the crossing of the lines. It is advisable, therefore, to
have your room well heated, or to supply yourself with two cast-metal
plates or two lithographic stones, or even two bricks, if you please,
which must be warmed and placed under your plate alternately, so as to
keep it at a soft and uniform temperature. Practice has shown that work
done at the right temperature is softer than that executed when the
varnish is too cold, even if it is not sufficiently so to scale off.

22. =The Tracing.=--According to the kind of work to be done, we shall
either draw directly on the plate, or, in the case of a drawing which is
to be copied of its own size, we shall make use of a tracing. Many
engravers emancipate themselves from the tracing, and accustom
themselves to reversing the original while they copy it. The manner of
using a tracing is well known. We shall need tracing-paper, paper rubbed
with sanguine on one side, and a pencil. The tracing is made on the
tracing-paper, and this is afterwards placed on the prepared plate;
between the tracing and the plate we introduce the paper rubbed with
sanguine; then, with a very fine lead-pencil, or with a somewhat blunt
needle, we go carefully over the lines of the design, which, under the
gentle pressure of the tool, is thus transferred in red to the black
ground. It is unnecessary to use much pressure, as otherwise your
tracing will be obscured by the sanguine and you will find neither
precision nor delicacy in it. Furthermore, you run the risk of injuring
the ground. The tracing is used simply to indicate the places where the
lines are to be, and it must be left to the needle to define them.

23. =Reversing the Design.=--Whenever your task is the interpretation of
an object of fixed aspect, such as a monument, or some well-known scene,
or human beings in a given attitude, you will be obliged to reverse the
drawing on your plate, as otherwise it will appear reversed in the
proof. You must, therefore, reverse your tracing, which is a very easy
matter, as the design is equally visible on both sides of the
tracing-paper. Gelatine in sheets, however, offers still greater
advantages when a design is to be reversed. Place the gelatine on the
design, and, as it is easily scratched, make your tracing with a very
fine-pointed and sharp needle, occasionally slipping a piece of black
paper underneath the gelatine to assure yourself that you have omitted
nothing. The point, in scratching the gelatine, raises a bur, and this
must be removed gently with a paper stump, or with the scraper, after
which operation the tracing is rubbed in with powdered sanguine. Having
now thoroughly cleaned the sheet, so that no powder is left anywhere
but in the furrows, we turn the sheet over and lay it down on the plate,
and finally rub it on its back in all directions, for which purpose we
use the burnisher dipped in oil. The design, reversed, will be found
traced on the varnish in extremely fine lines.

24. =Use of the Mirror.=--The tracing finished, place a mirror before
your plate on the table, and as close by as possible; between the plate
and the mirror fix the design to be reproduced, and then draw the
reflected image. For the sake of greater convenience, take your position
at right angles to the window instead of facing it, so that the light
passing through the transparent screen on your left falls on the mirror
and the design, as well as on your work. When drawing on the copper from
nature, if the design is to be reversed, you must place yourself with
your back to the object to be drawn, and so that you can easily see it
in a small mirror set up before your plate. This is the way Méryon
proceeded: standing, and holding in the same hand his plate and a little
mirror, which he always carried in his pocket, he guided his point with
the most absolute surety, without any further support.

25. =Precautions to be observed while Drawing.=--Before you begin to
draw you must trace the margin of your design, for the guidance of the
printer. To protect your plate, it will be necessary to cover it with
very soft paper; the pressure of the hand does no harm, provided you
avoid rubbing the varnish. If you should happen to damage it, you must
close up the brilliant little dots which you will observe, by touching
them up, very lightly and with a very fine brush, with stopping-out

26. =Directions for Drawing with the Needle.=--I might now let you copy
some very simple etching; but your knowledge of drawing will, I believe,
enable you to try your hand at a somewhat more important exercise. Let
us suppose, then, that you are to draw a landscape, although the
practice you are about to acquire applies to all other subjects equally
well. Will you reproduce this design by Claude Lorrain? (Pl. II.) It is
a composition full of charm and color, and very harmonious in effect.
Use only one needle, and keep your work close together in the distance
and more open in the foreground. (See Pl. I^_a_.) That appears
paradoxical to you; but the nitric acid will soon tell you why this is
so. I shall indicate to you, after your plate has been bitten, those
cases in which you will have to proceed differently, or, in other words,
in which you will have to draw your lines nearer together or farther
apart without regard to the different distances. I cannot explain this
subject more fully before you have become acquainted with the process of
biting in, as without this knowledge it must remain unintelligible to
you. This remark holds good, also, of what I have told you on the
subject of the needles of different degrees of sharpness.

"It is curious, my dear sir, to notice how at one and the same time the
point combines a certain degree of softness and of precision; those who
draw with the pen ought also to be admirers of etching. It seems to me,
however, that my lines are too thick; I have already laid several of
them, and the varnish is no longer visible; I am afraid I have taken it
up altogether."

You need not feel any uneasiness about that; it is simply owing to the
irradiation of the copper, the brilliancy of which the screen does not
completely subdue. The bright line is made to look broader than it
really is by the brilliant gloss of the metal. But if you lay a piece of
tracing-paper on the plate you will see the lines as they really are;
that is to say, with plenty of space between them. By the aid of a lens
you can convince yourself still more easily; you will often have
occasion to avail yourself of this instrument to enable you to do fine
work with greater facility, or to give you a better insight into what
you have already done.

As the irradiation of which we have just spoken is apt to deceive us in
regard to the quantity of the work done, we may happen to find less of
it than we expected when the plate has been bitten. Plates which to the
beginner seem to be quite elaborately worked, present to the acid lines
widely spaced and insufficient in number, thus necessitating retouches.
It is essential, therefore, in principle (except in the special cases to
be pointed out hereafter), to give to our work, in its first stages, all
the development that is necessary.

I forgot to tell you that you must provide yourself with a very soft
brush, say a badger, which, from time to time, you must pass lightly
over your plate so as to remove the small particles of varnish raised by
the needle. Otherwise you will not be able to see properly what you have
been doing.

Continue, and follow your own feeling; work away without fear of going
wrong; some of your errors you will be able to remedy. Thus, if you have
made a mistake, you can lay a thin coat of liquid varnish over the
spoiled part by means of a brush; in a few seconds the varnish will have
dried, and you can make your correction. You can employ this method for
the correction of a faulty line, or to restore a place which should have
remained white, but which you have inadvertently shaded.

Here I shall stop for the present, and shall close by saying, May good
luck attend your point, as well as your acid! There is nothing more to
be said to you until after your plate has been bitten.



27. =Bordering the Plate.=--This work took some time. Our young student,
impatient to see the transformation wrought by the acid, came back
without keeping me waiting for him.

"Hurry up! A tray, acid, and all the accessories!"

Instead of using a tray, I tell him, we can avail ourselves of another
method, which is used by many engravers, and which consists in bordering
the plate with wax. This wax,[6] having been softened in warm water, is
flattened out into long strips, and is fastened hermetically and
vertically around the edges of the plate, so that, when hardened, it
forms the walls of a vessel, the bottom of which is represented by the
design drawn with the point. To avoid dangerous leaks, heat a key, and
pass it along the wax where it adheres to the plate; the wax melts, and,
on rehardening, offers all possible guarantees of solidity. We now pour
the acid on the plate thus converted into a tray, and as we have taken
care to form a lip in one of the angles made by the bordering wax, it is
an easy matter to pour off the liquid after each biting. This proceeding
is useful in the case of plates which are too large for the tray.
Otherwise, however, I prefer a tray made of gutta-percha or porcelain.

28. =The Tray.=--Let us now install ourselves at this table, and let us
cover the margin and the back of the plate with a thick coat of
stopping-out varnish. As soon as the varnish is perfectly dry, we place
the plate into the tray standing horizontally on the table, and pour on
acid enough to cover it to the height of about a centimetre. This depth,
which is sufficient for biting, allows the eye to follow the process in
its various stages.

29. =Strength of the Acid.=--This acid is fresh, and has not yet been
used; bought at forty degrees, I mix it with an equal quantity of
water, which reduces it to twenty degrees. This is the strength
generally adopted for ordinary biting. Its color is clear, and slightly
yellow; but as soon as it takes up the copper it becomes blue, and then
green. As, in its present state, it would act too impetuously, I add to
it a small quantity of acid which has been used before. You may also
throw a few scraps of copper into it the day before using it; the old
etchers used for this purpose a copper coin, larger or smaller,
according to the volume of the bath.[7]

30. =Label your Bottles!=--One day, one of my pupils, having a bad cold,
did not notice the difference between the smell of the acid and that of
the turpentine, and so plunged a plate which he desired to bite, into a
bath of the latter fluid. "It's queer," he said, "this won't bite, and
yet the varnish scales off.... The lines keep enlarging, and run into
one another! What does this curious medley mean, which appears on the
plate?" It was simple enough. The spirits of turpentine had dissolved
the ground, and consequently the plate developed a shining and radiating
surface before the eyes of our wondering student, as if it had just left
the hands of the plate-maker.

Advice to those who are absent-minded, and who are liable to mistake
fluids which look alike for one another,--Label your bottles!

31. =The First Biting.=--Let us make haste now, I say to my pupil, to do
our biting. As the heat of the day abates, the acid becomes less active;
and besides, to judge by the delicate character of the original we are
to render, we shall need at least two or three hours, all told, for this
operation. The task before us consists in the reproduction of a given
work, the merit of which lies in the gradation in the various distances.
It needs time and attention to be able to carry all the necessary
processes successfully into practice.

It will be plain to you, from what I have just said, that the operation
you are about to engage in is one of the most delicate in the etcher's
practice. There is the plate in the acid; the liquid has taken hold of
the copper; but your sky must be light, and a prolonged corrosion would
therefore be hurtful to it. Hence we take the plate out of the bath,
pass it through pure water, so that no acid is left in the lines, and
cover it with several sheets of blotting-paper, which, being pressed
against it by the hand, dries the plate. We shall have to go through the
same process after each partial biting, because if the plate were moist,
the stopping-out varnish which we are going to apply to it would not

32. =The Use of the Feather.=--You noticed the lively ebullitions on the
plate, which took place twice in succession. After the first, I passed
this feather lightly over the copper, to show you its use. Its vane
removed the bubbles which adhered to the lines. This precaution is
necessary, especially when the ebullitions acquire some intensity and
are prolonged, to facilitate the biting, as the gas by which the bubbles
are formed keeps the acid out of the lines. If these bubbles are not
destroyed, the absence of biting in the lines is shown in the proofs by
a series of little white points. Such points are noticeable in some of
the plates etched by Perelle, who, it seems, ignored this precaution.

33. =Stopping Out.=--The two rapid ebullitions which you saw may serve
you as a standard of measurement; the biting produced by them must be
very light, and sufficient for the tone of the sky. You may, therefore,
cover the entire sky with stopping-out varnish by means of a brush,
taking care to stop short just this side of the outlines of the other
distances. The importance of mixing lamp-black with your stopping-out
varnish to thicken it, comes in just here; because if it remained in its
liquid state, it might be drawn by capillary attraction into the lines
of those parts which you desire to reserve, and thus, by obstructing
them, might stop the biting in places where it ought to continue. Wait
till the varnish has become perfectly dry; you can assure yourself of
this by breathing upon it; if it remains brilliant, it is still soft,
and the acid will eat into it; but as soon as it is dry it will assume a
dull surface under your breath.[8]

34. =Effect of Temperature on Biting.=--Let us now return the plate to
the bath, to obtain the values of the other distances. The temperature
has a great effect on the intensity of the ebullitions, and it is hardly
possible to depend on it absolutely as a fixed basis on which to rest a
calculation of the time necessary for each biting, as its own
variability renders it difficult to appreciate the aid to be received
from it. In winter, for instance, with the same strength of acid, it
needs four or five times as much time to reach the same result as in
summer, so that on very hot days the biting progresses so rapidly that
the plate cannot be lost sight of for a single moment without risk of

[Illustration: Pl. I_a_.]

35. =Biting continued.=--We have now obtained several moderate
ebullitions, and as it would not do to exaggerate the tone of the
mountain in the background, it is time to withdraw the plate once more.
Uncover a single line by removing the ground, either with the nail of
your finger or with a very small brush dipped into spirits of
turpentine, to examine whether it is deeply enough bitten for the
distance which it is to represent. If the depth is not sufficient, cover
it with stopping-out varnish, and bite again. This is not necessary,
however, in our present case, and you may therefore stop out the whole
background. Remember, if you please, that the line must look _less_
heavy than it is to show in the proof; for you must take into account
the black color of the printing-ink. With your brush go over the edges
of the trees which are to be relieved rather lightly against the sky, as
well as over that part of the shadow in this tower which blends with the
light. There are also some delicate passages in the figure of the woman
in the foreground, in the details of the plants, and in the folds of
this tent (Pl. I_a_). Stop out all these, and do not lose sight of the
values of the original (Pl. II.). Make use of the brush to revarnish
several places which are scaling off on the margin and the back of the
plate. The temperature is favorable; the ebullitions come on without
letting us wait long, and the plate is bluing rapidly. I do not like to
see these operations drag on; in winter, therefore, I do my biting near
the fire. We soon acquire a passion for biting, and take an ever-growing
interest in it, which is incessantly sharpened by thinking of the result
to which we aspire. Hence the desire of constant observation, and that
assiduity in following all the phases of the biting-in.

I notice that the acid does not act on certain parts of your work; you
will find out soon enough what that means.

36. =Treatment of the Various Distances.=--"I am thinking just now of
what you told me in regard to the background:--that more work ought to
be put into it than into the foreground."

Nothing, indeed, is simpler. You understand that the background, which
is bitten in quite lightly, must show very delicate lines, while in the
middle distance and in the foreground the lines are enlarged by the
action of successive bitings. When it comes to the printing, the
quantity of ink received by these various lines will be in proportion to
the values which you desired to obtain, and in the proofs you will have
a variety of lighter or stronger tones, giving you the needed gradations
in the various distances. It follows from this that, if you had worked
too sparingly on the distances which receive only a light biting, you
could not have reached the value of the tone which you strove to get,
and if you had worked too closely on those parts which require continued
biting, you would have had a black and indistinct tone, because the
lines, which are enlarged by the acid, and consequently keep approaching
one another, would finally have run together into one confused mass,
producing what in French is called a _crevé_ (blotch).

In an etching the space between the lines must be made to serve a
purpose; for the paper seen between the black strokes gives delicacy,
lightness, and transparency of tone.

37. =The Crevé.--Its Advantages and Disadvantages.=--In very skilled
hands the _crevé_ is a means of effect. If you wish to obtain great
depth in a group of trees, in a wall, in very deep shadows, you will
risk nothing by intermingling your lines picturesquely and biting them
vigorously. In this way you can produce tones of velvety softness, and
at the same time of extraordinary vigor. Similarly, you may strike a
fine note by means of running together several lines which, if
sufficiently bitten, will form but a single broad one of great solidity
and power. It is, indeed, only the exaggeration of this expedient,
which, by unduly enlarging the limits of the broad line just spoken of,
and thus producing a large and deep surface between them, constitutes
the _crevé_ properly so called; the printing ink has no hold in this
flat hollow, and a gray spot in the proof is the result. I have warned
you of the accident; later on you shall hear something of the remedy. We
will now continue our biting. Plunge your plate into the bath again, if
you please.

38. =Means of ascertaining the Depth of the Lines.=--"My dear sir, I see
that my drawing turns black; it disappears almost entirely, and is lost
in the color of the ground.[9] I am quite perplexed. My mind endeavors
to penetrate beneath this varnish, so as to be able to witness the
mysterious birth of my _oeuvre_. See these violent ebullitions! What
do you think of them?"

Let them go on a moment longer, and then withdraw your plate. We have
now arrived at a point where the eye cannot judge of the work of the
acid as easily as before; henceforth we must, therefore, examine the
depth of our bitings by uncovering a single line, as, for instance, this
one here in the ground. Or we may even lay bare, by the aid of spirits
of turpentine, a part of the foreground, provided, however, that we must
not forget to cover it again with the brush. This will give us an idea
of the total effect so far produced by the biting, and we can then
regulate the partial bitings which are still to follow, either by a
comparison of the time employed on those that have gone before, or by
the intensity of the ebullitions, the action of which on the copper we
have already studied. You perceive that, while it is difficult to fix a
standard of time for the bitings at the beginning of the operation, it
is yet possible to calculate those to come by what we have so far done.

39. =The Rules which govern the Biting are subordinated to various
Causes.=--In reality, it is impossible to establish fixed rules for the
biting, for the following reasons:--

1. Owing to the varying intensity of the stroke of the needle. The
etcher who confines himself to gently baring his copper must bite longer
than he who attacks his plate more vigorously, and therefore exposes it
more to the action of the acid.

2. Owing to the different quality of the plates.

3. Owing to the difference in temperature of the surrounding air:--of
this we have before spoken.

4. Owing to difference of strength in the acid, as it is impossible
always to have it of absolutely the same number of degrees. At 15° to
18° the biting is gentle and slow; at 20° it is moderate; at 22° to 24°
it becomes more rapid. It would be dangerous to employ a still higher
degree for the complete biting-in of a plate, especially in the lighter

40. =Strong Acid and Weak Acid.=--It is, nevertheless, possible to put
such strong acid to good service. A fine gray tint may, for instance,
be imparted to a well-worked sky by passing a broad brush over it,
charged with acid at 40°. But the operation must be performed with
lightning speed, and the plate must instantly be plunged into pure

As a corollary of the fourth cause, it is well to know that an acid
overcharged with copper loses much of its force, although it remains at
the same degree. Thus an acid taken at 20°, but heavily charged with
copper from having been used, will be found to be materially enfeebled,
and to bite more slowly than fresh acid at 15° to 18°. To continue to
use it in this condition would be dangerous, because there is no longer
any affinity between the liquid and the copper, and if, under such
circumstances, you were to trust to the appearance of biting (which
would be interminable, besides), you would find, on removing the
varnish, that the plate had merely lost its polish where the lines ought
to be, without having been bitten. It is best, therefore, always to do
your biting with fresh acid, constantly renewed, as the results will be
more equal, and you will become habituated to certain fixed conditions.

Some engravers, of impetuous spirit and impatient of results, do their
biting with acid of a high degree, while others, more prudent, prefer
slow biting, which eats into the copper uniformly and regularly, and
hence they employ a lower degree. In this way the varnish remains
intact, and there is not that risk of losing the purity of line which
always attends the employment of a stronger acid.

41. =Strength of Acid in relation to certain Kinds of Work.=--Experience
has also shown that, with the same proportion in the time employed, the
values are accentuated more quickly and more completely by a strong than
by a mild acid; this manifests itself at the confluence of the lines,
where the acid would play mischief if the limit of time were

Another effect of biting which follows from the preceding, is noticeable
in lines drawn far apart. Of isolated lines the acid takes hold very
slowly, and they may therefore be executed with a cutting point and
bitten in with tolerably strong acid.

The reverse takes place when the lines are drawn very closely together;
the biting is very lively. Work of this kind, therefore, demands a
needle of moderate sharpness and a mild acid.

Hence, interweaving lines and very close lines are bitten more deeply by
the same acid than lines drawn parallel to each other, and widely
spaced, although they may all have been executed with the same needle.
If, in an architectural subject, you have drawn the lines with the same
instrument, but far apart on one side, and closely and crossing each
other on the other, you must not let them all bite the same length of
time, if you wish them to hold the same distance. It will be necessary
to stop out the latter before the former, otherwise you will have a
discordant difference in tone. There will be inequality in the biting,
but it will not be perceptible to the eye, as the general harmony has
been preserved. (See Pl. IV. Fig. 1.)

In short, strong acid rather widens than deepens the lines; mild acid,
on the contrary, eats into the depth of the copper, and produces lines
which are shown in relief on the paper, and are astonishingly powerful
in color. This is especially noticeable in the etchings of Piranesi, who
used hard varnish.

42. =Last Stages of Biting.=--But let us return to our operation. You
noticed that I allowed your plate to bite quite a while; this was
necessary to detach your foreground and middle-ground vigorously from
the sky and the background. You may now stop out the trees, the tower,
and the tent in the middle-ground, and the vertical part of the bridge,
which is in half-tint, and then proceed. Note that the number of bitings
is not fixed, but depends on the effect to be reached.

"In that case it is to be hoped, for the sake of my apprentice hands,
that I shall never have many bitings to do. Just look at my fingers!
They are in a nice state. The prettiest yellow skin you ever saw!"

Oh, don't let that color trouble you; it will be all black by to-morrow.

"Much obliged to you for this bit of consolation!"

Besides, it will take you a week to grow a new skin. In future you must
soak your fingers in pure water whenever you have got them into the
acid. You might have used india-rubber finger-gloves; they are excellent
to keep the hands clean, but it is not worth while to trouble about them
for the present, as we are almost done.[10] I think you may now stop out
all that remains, with the exception of the darkest places in the
foreground, to which we must give a final biting.

There! Now we've got it! Withdraw your plate for the last time, and as
there are some very widely spaced lines in this tree in the foreground,
you will risk nothing by giving them a final touch with pure acid. The
strongest accent in the landscape rests on this spot; it determines the
color of the whole. By this application of pure acid we shall get a
vigorous tone, a powerful effect.

I may as well tell you here that it is sometimes advisable to add a
small quantity of pure acid to the bath towards the end of the
operation, so as to increase the activity of the biting on certain parts
of the plate without running into excess. But as the place now under
consideration is restricted, we shall adopt another means, so as to
limit the action of the acid to the given point. See here: I let fall a
few drops; the pure acid eats into the copper with great vehemence; the
metal turns green, and the ebullition subsides. Now take up the
exhausted liquid with a piece of blotting-paper, and let us commence
again. Under these newly added drops of fresh acid, the varnish is ready
to scale off, the lines sputter, and assume a strange yellow color;
these golden vapors announce that the operation is finished.

What follows, is the task of the printer; his press will tell us whether
we have won, or whether we have been mated. Clean the plate with spirits
of turpentine, using your fingers, or with a very clean old rag (calico,
if possible), if you are afraid to soil your hands. Be sure to have the
plate well cleaned, but take care not to scratch it.

The acid, which may be of use hereafter, we will turn into a glass
bottle with a ground stopper, and will store it in some safe place.



43. =Omissions.--Insufficiency of the Work so far done.=--The result you
have obtained, I tell my pupil, as he shows a proof of the _first state_
of his plate to me, is not final. Your work needs a few retouches and
slight modifications, not counting the little irregularities which I had
foreseen, and which it will be easy enough to repair. We will proceed in
order. (See Pl. I^_a_). To commence with, here are certain parts which
are sufficiently bitten, and which, nevertheless, are indecisive in
tone, and do not hold their place. I allude to the columns and to the
trees in the further distance; one feels that there is something wanting
there, which must be added. You must, therefore, re-cover your plate, in
the manner already known to you, either with transparent ground, or with
ordinary etching-ground, just as if the plate had never yet been touched
by the needle.

44. =Transparent Ground for Retouching.=--The white or transparent
ground or varnish[11] admirably allows all previous work to show
through. It is preferred to the ordinary ground for working over parts
that have been insufficiently bitten, on account of its transparency,
which leaves even the finest lines visible, while under the ordinary
ground these lines might be lost entirely. It will be an easy matter for
you to combine the new work with the old; the very slight shadow thrown
on the copper by the transparent ground will give a blackish appearance
to your lines, which may serve as a guide to you, and, with your proof
before your eyes, you will readily succeed in finding the places which
need retouching. To make assurance doubly sure, you can indicate the
retouches on your proof with a lead-pencil.

The transparent ground has occasionally been found to crack and scale
off, when left in the bath for a long while, or when strong acid is
used. But as you are only going to use it for light and, consequently,
short biting, you need not fear this danger. Another inconvenience,
which may easily be prevented, consists in the presence of small bubbles
of air, which appear on the varnish as soon as it begins to melt. Heat
the plate just to the proper point of melting, and dab it vigorously for
some length of time, until the varnish cools; then hold the back of the
plate flat to the fire; the varnish melts again, and the rest of the
bubbles disappear. If some of them should prove to be obstinate, cover
them very lightly with the brush, as otherwise the acid will penetrate
through the passages thus left open, and will make little holes in the
copper, which, on removing the varnish, will cause an unpleasant
surprise. You shall hear more of this further on.

45. =Ordinary Ground used for Retouching.--Biting the
Retouches.=--Ordinary etching-ground, such as we used in the first
instance, does not show the work previously done as well as the
transparent ground, but the later additions are seen all the better on
it. It may be used in its natural state, or it may be smoked. It is
preferable to the transparent varnish, whenever the work already
achieved is deeply bitten, and hence easily seen.

In the present case my advice is that you use the ordinary ground.
Having made your retouches, introduce your plate into the bath, and
proceed as before, by partial biting, endeavoring, as much as possible,
to obtain the same intensity of tone. These additions, thus bitten by
themselves, will mingle with the lines previously drawn, and now
protected by the varnish.

It is hardly possible to judge of the additions, especially on
transparent varnish, until they have been bitten in. But, if you should
then find that you have not yet reached your point, you can revarnish
the plate once more, and complete the parts that appear to be

I must also call your attention to the fact, that all lines drawn on
transparent ground seem to thicken most singularly, as soon as the acid
begins to work. But do not let that deceive you.

Now look at this spot in the immediate foreground (Pl. I^_a_), which has
a somewhat coarse appearance. It is much softer in the original
(represented by Pl. II.). You must add a few lines, and must bite them
rather lightly; they will mingle agreeably with the energetic lines of
the first state. You may put the large trees through the same process,
and you will find that they gain in lightness by it. Later on, when you
have acquired more experience, you will occasionally find it handy to
make these additions between two bitings. You will thus reach the
desired result without the necessity of regrounding your plate.

Sometimes, when using strong acid for these retouches, the lines first
drawn are also attacked by the liquid. In that case, stop the biting
immediately, and rest contented with what you have got. It is not
difficult to understand why these revarnished lines should commence to
bite again, more especially if they are deep: the acid, finding the
edges of the lines (which are sharp and angular, and therefore do not
offer much hold to the varnish) but indifferently protected, attacks
them, without going into their depths. The ravages thus committed along
the edges of the lines may be quite disastrous; and it is well,
therefore, whenever you revarnish a plate, to give additional protection
to those parts which are not to be retouched, by going over them with
stopping-out varnish.

46. =Revarnishing with the Brush.=--Instead of revarnishing with the
dabber, the ground may also be laid with the brush. For this purpose you
can use the stopping-out varnish mixed with lamp-black. Spread a coat of
varnish all over the plate, using a very soft brush; if the copper
should not be perfectly covered on the edges of the deeply etched lines,
add a second coat of varnish. Do not wait till the varnish has become
too dry before you execute the retouches, which, of course, must also be
bitten in as usual. Mixed with lamp-black, the stopping-out varnish
allows even the finest lines to be seen, which would not show as well if
the varnish were used in its natural state. Many engravers use this
varnish instead of the transparent ground.

47. =Partial Retouches.--Patching.=--For partial retouches and for
patching the stopping-out varnish is also used, but in a simpler and
more expeditious way. Cover the part in question with a tolerably thick
coat of varnish, and when you have finished your retouch, slightly
moisten the lines with saliva, to prevent the few drops of acid which
you supply from your bath with the brush from running beyond the spot on
which they are to act. If pure acid is used,--which is still more
expeditious,--the effervescence is stopped by dabbing with a piece of
blotting-paper, and the operation is repeated as long as the biting does
not appear to be sufficient. For very delicate corrections it is
advisable not to wait until the first ebullition is over; but it must be
left to the feeling to indicate the most opportune moment for the
application of the blotting-paper. If you proceed rapidly and
cautiously, you can obtain extremely fine lines in this way, as you have
had occasion to see under other circumstances (see paragraph 40, p. 25).

You may recollect that I spoke of lines which had not bitten: I alluded
to this spot in the middle of the bridge (see Pl. I^_a_). You did not
bear on your needle sufficiently, and hence it did not penetrate clear
down to the copper; consequently, after having compared the proof of the
first state with the original (Pl. II.), you must do the necessary
patching according to the instructions just given to you.

48. =Dry Point.=--Whenever it is necessary to retouch, or to add to very
delicate parts of the plate, such as the extreme distance, or any other
part very lightly bitten, it is safer to use the _dry point_, as in such
cases retouching by acid is a most difficult thing to do. The tone must
be hit exactly, and without exaggeration.

Your plate offers an opportunity for the use of the dry point: the sky
and the mountain are partly etched; you can improve them by a few
touches of the dry point.

The dry point is held in a perpendicular position, and is used on the
bare copper. It must be ground with a cutting edge, and very sharp, so
that it may freely penetrate into the copper, and not merely scratch it.
You cut the line yourself, regulating its depth by the amount of
pressure used, and according to the tone of the particular passage on
which you are working. For patching, it is more frequently used in
delicate passages than in others, as, even with great pressure, the
strength of a dry point line will always be below that of a line deeply
bitten. In printing, the dry point line has less depth of color than the
bitten line, as the acid bites into the copper perpendicularly at right
angles; while the furrow produced by the dry point, which offers only
acute angles, takes up less ink, although it appears equally broad.
This inequality disappears if a plate in which etched lines and dry
point work are intermingled is re-bitten; the difference in tone is then

On the other hand, the difference in the appearance of etched lines and
dry point work produces curious effects. Thus, if a passage which is too
strong and appears to stand out is to be corrected, a few touches of the
dry point will be sufficient to soften it, and to push it back to
another distance.

The dry point is not only used for retouching; it is sometimes employed,
without any etching, to put in the whole background.

49. =Use of the Scraper for removing the Bur thrown up by the Dry
Point.=--The dry point work being finished, the _bur_ thrown up by the
instrument must be removed. The bur is the ridge raised on the edge of
the line, as the point ploughs through the metal; you can satisfy
yourself of its existence by the touch. In printing, the ink catches in
this ridge, and produces blots. The bur is removed by means of the
_scraper_, an instrument with a triangular blade, one of the sides of
which, held flat, is passed over the plate in the opposite direction to
that of the stroke of the point, and so as to take the line obliquely.
You need not feel any anxiety about injuring the plate; the touch will
tell you when the bur has disappeared. In the case of dry point lines
crossing one another, each set running in a different direction must be
drawn as well as scraped separately, in the manner just described;
otherwise you will run the risk of closing the lines which cross the
path of the scraper, by turning the bur down into the furrows.

50. =Reducing Over-bitten Passages.=--So much for the additions. We will
now pass on to the very opposite: the shadow thrown by the parapet, and
the ground between the man and the woman, have been _over-bitten_. These
parts do not harmonize with the neighboring parts, and are stronger in
tone than the corresponding parts of the original.

To remedy this, there are four means at your command:--

  The Burnisher.
  The Scraper.
  Hammering out.

51. =The Burnisher.=--As these passages are limited in extent, and not
very deeply bitten, you may use the burnisher to reduce them. Moisten
it with saliva, and take only a small spot at a time, holding the
instrument down flat. If you were to use only the end, you might make a
cavity in the copper. The burnisher flattens and enlarges the surface of
the copper, and consequently diminishes the width of the line. The tone,
therefore, is reduced.

On fine, close, and equal work the burnisher does excellent service, the
effect being analogous to that of the crumb of bread on a design on

It is less efficacious on deeply bitten work, because it rounds off the
edges of the lines as it penetrates into the furrows, and thus detracts
somewhat from the freshness of tone,--an unpleasant result, which, in
very fine work, is beyond the power of the eye to see.

You may use the burnisher to get rid of certain spots produced in the
foliage by lines placed too closely together, and by the same means you
can reduce those exaggerated passages in the stone-work of the
right-hand column.

You can also burnish these useless little blotches in the mountains.

52. =Charcoal.=--Whenever it is necessary to reduce the whole of a
distance, the use of charcoal is to be preferred. Charcoal made of
willow, or of other soft woods, which can be had of the plate-makers, is
used flat, impregnated with oil or water; it must be freed from its
bark, as this would scratch the plate. It wears the metal away
uniformly, and does not injure the crispness of the lines. Rub the
passage to be reduced with the charcoal, regulating the length of time
by the degree of delicacy you desire to attain. At the beginning soak
your charcoal in water, so as leave it more tooth; then clean it, and
continue with oil, which reduces the wear on the copper. The eye is
sufficient to judge of the wear; the way in which the charcoal takes
hold of the copper, and the copper-colored spots which it shows, may
serve as guides. As the effectiveness of the different kinds of charcoal
varies, these divers qualities of softness and coarseness are utilized
according to the nature of the correction to be made. It is well to
know, also, that it takes hold much more actively if used in the
direction of the grain, than transversely. You may, according to
circumstances, commence with a piece of coal having considerable tooth,
continue with another that is less aggressive, and wind up with a
somewhat soft piece. The heavier the charcoal the coarser its tooth, the
lightest being the softest. The plate must be washed, so as to keep the
charcoal always clean; as otherwise the dust produced, which forms a
paste, will wear down the bottom of the furrows, and the result, in the
proof, will be dull and reddish lines.

Charcoal is also used to remove the traces of the needle in those parts
of the plate in which changes were made while the drawing was still in

53. =The Scraper.=--The scraper is more efficacious than the burnisher
in the case of small places that have been deeply bitten. If the scraper
is sufficiently sharp, it leaves no trace whatever on the lowered
surface of the copper.

To sum up:--

_Charcoal_ and _scraper_ are used to remove part of the surface of the
copper. The furrows, having been reduced in depth, receive less ink in
printing; the lines gain in delicacy in the impressions.

The _burnisher_ simply displaces the copper; _charcoal_ and _scraper_
wear it away. It follows that they must be used with discernment.

54. =Hammering Out (Repoussage).=--These three means are employed when a
moderate lowering of the plate is required. When it becomes necessary to
go down to half the thickness of the plate or more, the result will be a
hollow, which will show as a spot in printing. In that case recourse is
had to the fourth means; that is to say, to hammer and anvil. Get a pair
of compasses with curved legs (_calipers_); let one of the legs rest on
the spot to be hammered out; the other leg will then indicate the place
on the back of the plate which must be struck with the hammer on the
anvil. In this way places which have been reduced with charcoal or
scraper may be brought up to the level of the plate; but if the lines
should be found to have been flattened, which would result in a dull
tone in the proofs, it will be best to have the part in question planed
out entirely, and to do it over.

55. =Finishing the Surface of the Plate.=--The charcoal occasionally
leaves traces on the plate, which show in the proof as rather too
strong a tint. You can get rid of them, by rubbing with a piece of very
soft linen, and the paste obtained by grinding charcoal with oil on a
fine stone.

By the same process the whole plate is tidied. It is likely to need it,
as it has undoubtedly lost some of its freshness, owing to the abuse to
which it was subjected in passing through all these processes.

Our young pupil, having executed these several operations, and bitten
his retouched plate, submits a proof to my inspection, which I compare
with that of the first state (Pls. I^_a_ and I.). Now you see, I say to
him, how one state leads to another. You have come up to the harmony of
the original; your _second state_ is satisfactory, and so there is no
need of having recourse to varnishing the plate a third time.

[Illustration: Plate I.]

[Illustration: Plate II.]



56. =Stopping-out Varnish dropped on a Plate while Biting.=--You are
just in time, I continued, to profit by an accident which has happened
to me. I dropped some stopping-out varnish on a plate while it was
biting; it has spread over some parts which are not yet sufficiently
bitten, and of course it is impossible to go on now. I took the ground
off the plate, and had this proof pulled. It is unequal in tone, and
does not give the modelling which I worked for.

"What are you going to do about it? Is the plate lost?"

57. =Revarnishing with the Roller for Rebiting.=--Oh, no, indeed, thanks
to the _roller for revarnishing_! My first precaution will be to clean
the plate very carefully, first with spirits of turpentine, until the
linen does not show the least sign of soiling, and then with bread. Or,
having used the turpentine, I might continue the cleaning process with a
solution of potash, after which the plate must be washed in pure water.
I then put a little ground, specially prepared for the purpose, on a
second plate, which must be scrupulously clean, and not heated; or,
better still, I apply the ground directly to the roller itself by means
of a palette-knife. I divide this second plate into three parts. By
passing the roller over the first part, I spread the ground roughly over
it; on the second part I equalize and distribute it more regularly; on
the third, finally, I finish the operation. By these repeated rollings a
very thin layer of ground is evenly spread over all parts of the surface
of the roller, and we may now apply it to the plate which is to be

To effect this purpose, I pass the roller over the cold plate carefully
and with very slight pressure, repeating the process a number of times
and in various directions. This is an operation requiring skill. The
ground adheres only to the surface of the plate, without penetrating
into the furrows, although it is next to impossible to prevent the
filling up of the very finest lines. Having thus spread the ground, and
having assured myself that the lines are all right by the brilliancy of
their reflection as I hold the plate against the light, I rapidly pass a
burning paper under the plate. The ground is slightly heated, and
solidifies as it cools.

The varnish used in this operation is the ordinary etching-ground in
balls, dissolved in oil of lavender in a bath of warm water. It must
have the consistency of liquid cream; if it is too thick, add a little
oil of lavender.[12]

Both the plate and the roller must be well protected against dust.

It is not necessary to clean the roller after the operation; only take
care to wipe its ends with the palm of your hand, turning it the while,
so as to remove the rings of varnish which may have formed there.

If the lines are found closed, too much pressure has been used on the
roller; if the ground is full of little holes, the plate has not been
cleaned well, and wherever the surface of the copper is exposed the acid
will act on it. There is nothing to be done, in both cases, but to wash
off the ground with spirits of turpentine, and commence anew.

My plate is now in the same state in which it was when I withdrew it
from the bath. I stop out those parts which are sufficiently bitten,
and, guided by my proof, I can proceed to continue the biting which was
interrupted by the accident.

58. =Revarnishing with the Roller in Cases of Partial Rebiting.=--You
will find this method especially valuable whenever you desire to
strengthen passages that are weak in tone. And furthermore, having thus
revarnished your plate, you may avail yourself of the opportunity of
giving additional finish. But if, before revarnishing, you should have
burnished down some over-bitten lines in a passage which needs rebiting,
you will find that the shallow cavity produced by the burnisher does not
take the ground from the roller; such places are easily detected by the
brilliant aspect of the copper, and good care must be taken to cover
them with ground. Again, if, before proceeding to rebite, you should
notice certain passages which are strong enough as they are, either
because the copper was cut by the point, or because the lines in them
are very close, you must cover them up with the brush. The same thing is
necessary in the case of the excessively black spots which sometimes
manifest themselves in places covered by irregularly crossing lines, and
the intensity of which it would be useless to increase still further.
This recommendation is valuable for work requiring precision.

59. =Revarnishing with the Dabber for Rebiting.=--For partial rebiting
the same result may be reached by applying the ground with the dabber.
Heat your plate, and surround the part to be rebitten with a thick coat
of ordinary etching-ground. Now heat your dabber, and pass it over the
ground. Finally, when the dabber is thoroughly impregnated with the
ground, carry it cautiously and little by little over the part in
question, dabbing continually.[13]

60. =Revarnishing with the Brush for Rebiting.=--Let me also call your
attention to an analogous case which may arise. If you desire to
increase the depth of the biting in a part of the plate in which the
lines are rather widely apart, you may cover the plate with the brush
and stopping-out varnish, and may pass the needle through the lines so
as to open them again. You can then rebite in the tray, or by using pure
acid, or by allowing acid at 20° to stand on the part in question, just
as you please.

61. =Rebiting a Remedy only.=--Etchers who are entitled to be considered
authorities will advise you to avoid as much as possible all rebiting by
means of revarnishing, as it results in heaviness, and never has the
freshness of a first biting obtained with the same ground. A practised
eye can easily detect the difference. Never let the rebiting be more
than a quarter of the first biting. Use the process as a remedy, but
never count on it as a part of your regular work.

62. =Holes in the Ground.=--Having once taken up the consideration of
the little mishaps which may befall the etcher, I shall now show you
another plate in which the sky is dotted by a number of minute holes of
no great depth (_piqués_). This plate has, no doubt, been retouched, and
the ground having been badly laid, the acid played mischief with it. It
is very lucky that the lines in the sky are widely separated, as
otherwise these holes would be inextricably mixed up with them. We can
rid ourselves of them by a few strokes of the burnisher, and by rubbing
with charcoal-paste and a bit of fine linen. The burnisher alone would
give too much polish to the copper; in printing the ink would leave no
tint on the plate in these spots, and the traces of the burnisher would
show as white marks in the proofs. To avoid this, the copper must be
restored to its natural state.[14]

"What would happen," asks another of my pupils, "if these little holes
occurred in a sky or in some other closely worked passage? Here is a
plate in which this accident has befallen some clouds and part of the
ground. What shall I do?"

To begin with, let me tell you for your future guidance that this
accident would not have happened if you had waited for the drying of the
ground with which you covered this sky after you had bitten it. The
acid, which never loses an opportunity given it by mismanagement or
inattention, worked its way unbeknown to you through the soft varnish in
the clouds as well as in the ground, and went on a spree at your
expense. Remember that nitric acid is very selfish; it insists that it
shall always be uppermost in your mind, and all your calculations must
take this demand into account; its powers, creative as well as
destructive, are to be continually dreaded; it likes to see you occupy
yourself with it continually, watchfully, and with fear. If you turn
your back to it, it plays you a trick, and thus it has punished you for
neglecting it for a moment.

"Thank you. But you are acting the part of La Fontaine's schoolmaster,
who moralized with the pupil when he had fallen into the water."

63. =Planing out Faulty Passages.=--And that did not help him out. You
are right. Well, you must go to some skilful copper-planer,[15] who will
work away at the spoiled part of your plate with scraper and burnisher
and charcoal, until he has restored the copper to its virgin state; then
all you've got to do will be to do your work over again.

"That is rather a blunt way of settling the question. Seeing that we are
about to cut into the flesh after this fashion, might it not be as well
to have the whole of the sky taken out altogether? I am not satisfied
with it, any way."

Certainly. By the same process the planer can remove every thing, up to
the outlines of the trees and the figures in your plate; he will cut out
any thing you want, and yet respect all the outlines, if you will only
indicate your wishes on a proof. In this passage, where you see deep
holes, scraper and charcoal will be insufficient; the planer must,
therefore, hammer them out before he goes at the other parts. As regards
the little holes in the foreground, since they are not as deep as the
lines among which they appear, you can remove them, or at least reduce
them, by means of charcoal, without injury to the deeply bitten parts.

You may follow this plan whenever you are convinced that a lowering of
tone will do no harm to your first work. In the opposite case, you must
either have recourse to the planer, or put up with the accident. If you
are not too much of a purist, you will occasionally find these _piqués_
productive of a _piquant_ effect, and then you will take good care not
to touch them.

"That's a 'point' which you did not mention among the utensils! You have
ingenious ways of getting out of a scrape."

We cut out, or cut down, or dig away, whole passages, according to
necessity. I have seen the half of a plate planed off, because the
design was faulty.

64. =Acid Spots on Clothing.=--Here comes one of my friends, who is also
an etcher. I wonder what he brings us! His clothing is covered all over
with spots of the most beautiful garnet; he ought to have washed them
with volatile alkali, which neutralizes the effect of the acid. But he
does not mind it.

65. =Reducing Over-bitten Passages and Crevés.=--"Oh, gentlemen, that is
not worth while speaking of! But you must see my plate. I drew a horse
from nature, which a whole swamp-ful of leeches might have disputed with
me. But I do believe it escaped the _biting_ of these animals only to
succumb to mine. Judge for yourselves!"

The fact of the matter is, that you have killed it with acid. There is
nothing left of it, but an informal mass, ten times over-bitten.
Fortunately there is no lack of black ink at the printer's! It is a
veritable Chinese shadow, and looks as if the horse had gone into
mourning for itself. However, although the carcass is lost, I hope you
may be able to save some of the members. The wounds are deep and broad;
but we can try a remedy _in extremis_: first of all, your horse will
have to stand an attack of _charcoal_; if it survives this, we shall
subject it to renewed and ferocious _bitings_. All this puzzles you.
Therefore, having treated your beast to the charcoal, and having had a
last proof taken, you place the latter before you, and re-cover your
plate with a solid coat of varnish. With a somewhat coarse point you
patch those places which show white in the proof, taking care to
harmonize your patches with the surrounding parts.

In this way you replace the lines which have disappeared, and then
proceed to bite in, doing your best to come as near as possible to the
strength of the first biting. The result may not be very marvellous, but
it will be an improvement, at all events. If I were in your place, I
should not hesitate to begin again. The process which I have just
described is best suited to isolated passages.

In closely worked and lightly bitten passages, blotches (or _crevés_)
are more easily remedied, as they are less deep. Rub them down with
charcoal, very cautiously and delicately, and let the dry point do the

There, now! There's our friend, again, using acid instead of spirits of
turpentine to clean his plate! That'll be the end of the animal. It is
against the law, sir, to murder a poor, inoffensive beast this wise!
Fortunately we can help him out with several sheets of blotting-paper,
in default of water, which we do not happen to have at hand. We were in
time! The copper has only lost its polish; a little more charcoal,--and
Rosinante still lives.

[Illustration: Plate III.]



66. =Two Kinds of Biting.=--Now that you have become familiar with the
secrets of biting, I say to my pupil, and are therefore prepared to be
on your guard against the accidents to be avoided when you go to work
again, I can make clear to you, better than if I had endeavored to do so
at the outset, the difference between the two kinds of biting on which
rests the whole system of the art of etching, and the distinctive
characteristics of which are often confounded. The work thus far done
will help you to a more intelligent understanding of this distinction.
As it was impossible to explain to you, at one and the same time, all
the resources of the needle as well as those of biting, between which,
as I told you before, there exist very intimate relations, I had to
choose a general example by which to demonstrate the processes employed,
and which would allow me to explain the reasons for these processes.

There are two kinds of biting,--_flat biting_ and _biting with
stopping-out_. (See Pl. III.)

These two kinds of biting resemble one another in this, that they
involve only one grounding or varnishing, and consequently only one
bath; they differ most markedly in this, that in _flat biting_ the work
of the acid is accomplished all over the plate at one and the same time,
and with only one immersion in the bath, while in _biting with
stopping-out_ there are several successive, or, if you prefer the term,
partial bitings, between each of which the plate is withdrawn from the
bath, and the parts to be reserved are stopped out with varnish as often
as it is thought necessary.

It follows from this, that, with flat biting, the modelling must be done
by the needle, using either only one needle, or else several of
different thicknesses.

67. =Flat Biting.--One Point.=--With a single needle the values are
obtained by drawing the lines closely together in the foreground and
nearer distances, or for passages requiring strength, and by keeping
them apart in the off distances, and in the lighter passages of the near
distances; furthermore, to obtain a play of light in the same distance,
the lines must be drawn farther apart in the lights, and more closely
together in the shadows. A single point gives a hint of what we desire
to do, but it does not express it. It is undoubtedly sufficient for a
sketch intended to represent a drawing executed with pen and ink or with
the pencil; but it cannot be successfully employed in a plate which, by
the variety of color and the vigor of the biting, is meant to convey the
idea of a painting.

68. =Flat Biting.--Several Points.=--When several points of different
thickness are used, the coarser serve for the foreground and near
distances, the finer in gradual succession for the receding distances.
They are used alternately in the different distances, and the lines are
drawn more closely together here, or kept farther apart there, according
to the necessities of the effect to be obtained; the depth of the biting
is the same throughout, but the difference in thickness of the lines
makes it an easy matter, by more elaborate modelling, to give to the
etching the appearance of a finished design.

With a single point, as well as with several, the pressure used in
drawing must remain the same throughout, so that the acid may act
simultaneously, and with equal intensity on all parts of the plate. If
there has been any inequality of attack, the values will be unequal in
their turn, and different from what they were intended to be.

[Illustration: Plate IV.]

69. =Biting with Stopping-out.--One Point.=--In biting with
stopping-out, it is the biting itself, and not the needle, which gives
modelling to the etching. In this case, also, one or several points may
be used. The simplest manner is that in which only one point is used.
The stopping-out, and consequently the biting, is done in large masses.
(See Pl. V. Fig. 1.)

70. =Biting with Stopping-out.--Several Points.=--As a very simple
example let us take a case in which it is necessary to have certain very
closely lined passages in a foreground alongside of very coarse ones.
In that case the first, or close, lines must be etched very delicately,
while the whole force of the biting must be brought to bear on the
latter (see Pl. IV. Fig. 2). In the same way the values of two different
objects may be equilibrated; by employing close lines slightly bitten in
the one case, and spaced lines more deeply bitten in the other. Biting
with stopping-out, combined with the work of several points, requires
more attention and discernment than any other.

If the first biting is not successful, the plate is revarnished, and the
work of repairing and correcting commences.

Summing up the advantages offered by these various means, you will see
what results the combination of the work of one or of several points
with partial biting may be made to yield, either in giving to objects
their various values, their natural color, and their modelling, or in
disposing them in space, and thus producing the harmonious gradation of
the several distances.

71. =Necessity of Experimenting.=--If you will now call to mind our
preceding operations, and will hold them together with the explanations
just given, you will be able to appreciate them in their totality. The
necessity of arriving at truth of expression, with nothing to guide you
but these rules, which are influenced by a variety of conditions, will
compel you to experiment for yourself, with special reference to the
combination of _the surrounding temperature, the strength of the acid,
the number of partial bitings, the pressure of the point, the different
thicknesses of the points_, and _the various kinds of work that can be
done with them_, on the one hand; and on the other, with regard to _the
length of the bitings_. If you are called upon to imitate a given object
very closely, you must proceed rationally, and your work must be
accompanied by continual reflection. To familiarize yourself with these
delicate operations, you must experiment for yourself; don't complain if
you spoil a few plates; you will learn something by your failures, as
your experience in one case will teach you what to do in others.
Self-acquired experience is of all teachers the best.

72. =Various other Methods of Biting.=--The two preceding methods,
which, in a general way, comprehend the rules of biting, do not exclude
other particular methods of a similar nature. Thus, it may be well
sometimes to etch at first only the simple outline, biting it in more
or less vigorously, according to the nature of the case (see Pl. IV.
Fig. 3); and then, having revarnished and resmoked the plate, to
elaborate the drawing by going over it either in some parts only or
throughout the whole. Rembrandt often pursued this course; and we may
follow the several stages of his work by studying the various states of
his plates. We see that he took great pains to work out some part of his
subject very carefully, without touching the other parts; he then took a
proof, and afterwards went over the same part with finer lines, and
passed on to the other parts, treating them according to the effect
which he desired to reach.

This method is often imitated; it is employed when it is necessary to
lay a shadow over a passage full of detail, as, for instance, in
architectural subjects, in the execution of which it is easier, and
tends to avoid confusion, to fix the lines of the design first, and
then, having laid the ground a second time, to add the shadows. (See Pl.
IV. Fig. 4.)

"Pardon me! But might not this result be obtained by the same biting, if
the lines of the design were drawn with a coarse point, and the shading
were added with a finer one?"

Certainly; and in that case we should have an instance of work executed
with several needles, such as I pointed out to you before.

From the explanations previously given, it will be clear, also, that,
the nature of the subject permitting, it may be advantageous sometimes
to execute a plate by drawing and biting each distance by itself. Thus
you may commence with the foreground, and may bite it in; having had a
proof taken, revarnish your plate, and proceed in the same fashion to
the execution of the other distances, and of the sky, always having a
proof taken after each biting to serve you as a guide.

This mode of operation--essentially that of the engraver--is of special
advantage in putting in a sky or a background behind complicated
foliage. You can draw and bite your sky or your background all by itself
(see Pl. IV. Fig. 5), and then, having revarnished your plate, you can
execute your trees on the background. As the trees are bitten by
themselves, it is evident that we have avoided a difficulty which is
almost insurmountable,--that, namely, of stopping out with the brush
the lines of the sky between intricate masses of foliage. But we can
also proceed differently. We can commence with the trees, drawing them
and biting them in, and can finish with the sky, having revarnished the
plate as usual: the sky will thus fall into its place behind the trees.
You need not trouble yourself because the lines of the sky pass across
the lines of the trees. The biting of the sky must be so delicate that
it will not affect the value of the foliage, and you may therefore carry
your point in all directions, and use it as freely as you please.

Some etchers find it more convenient to commence with the sky and the
background, on account of the points of resistance encountered by the
needle in the more deeply bitten lines of the trees, which destroys
their freedom of execution. They are correct, whenever the sky to be
executed is very complicated; but if only a few lines are involved, it
will be better to introduce them afterwards. It is, besides, an easy
matter to get accustomed to the jumping of the point when it is working
on a ground that has previously been bitten.

What I have just told you applies also to the masts and the rigging of
vessels, &c., and, indeed, to all lines which cut clearly and strongly
across a delicately bitten distance.

An etcher of great merit has conceived the original idea of executing an
etching in the bath itself, commencing with the passages which need a
vigorous biting, then successively passing on to the more delicate
parts, and finally ending with the sky.[C] The various distances thus
receive their due proportion of biting; but it is necessary to work very
quickly, as the biting of a plate etched in the bath in this manner
proceeds five to six times more rapidly than if done in the ordinary
manner. Every etcher ought to be curious to try this bold method of
working, so that he may see how it is possible to ally the inspiration
of the moment with the uncertain duration of the biting, which in this
process has emancipated itself from all methodical rule, and follows no
law but that imposed upon it by the caprice of the artist.[16]

  [C] The bath, in this case, is composed as follows:--
        880 gr. water.
        100  "  pure hydrochloric (muriatic) acid.
         20  "  potassium chlorate.

All this goes to show you that there is ample liberty of choice as to
processes in etching. It is well to try them all, as it is well to try
every thing that may give new and unknown results, may inspire ideas, or
may lead to progress, neither of which is likely to happen in the
pursuit of mere routine work.




73. =The Roulette.=--The latitude which I gave you does not extend to
the point of approving of all material resources without any exception.
There is one which I shall not permit you to make use of, as the needle
has enough resources of its own to be able to do without it. I allude to
the _roulette_, which finds its natural application in other species of

74. =The Flat Point.=--Employ the _flat point_ with judgment; it takes
up a great deal of varnish, but gives lines of little depth, and of less
strength than those which can be obtained by prolonged biting, with an
ordinary needle.

75. =The Graver or Burin.=--"And the graver: what do you say to that?"

The graver is the customary and fundamental tool of what is properly
called "line-engraving." Although it is not absolutely necessary in the
species of etching which we are studying, there are cases, nevertheless,
in which it can be used to advantage, but always as an auxiliary only.

If, for instance, you desire to give force to a deeply bitten but
grayish and dull passage, or to a flat tint which looks monotonous, a
few resolute and irregular touches with the graver will do wonders, and
will add warmth and color. A few isolated lines with the graver give
freshness to a muddy, broken, or foxy tint, without increasing its

The graver may also be employed in patching deeply bitten passages.

The graver, of a rectangular form, with an angular cutting edge, is
applied almost horizontally on the bare copper; its handle, rounded
above, flat below, is held in the palm of the hand; the index finger
presses on the steel bar; it is pushed forward, and easily enters the
metal: the degree of pressure applied, and the angle which it makes with
the plate, produces the difference in the engraved lines. The color
obtained by the burin is deeper than that obtained by biting, as it cuts
more deeply into the copper. If extensively used in an etching, the work
executed by the graver contrasts rather unpleasantly with the quality of
the etched work, as its lines are extremely clear cut. To get rid of
this inequality, it is sufficient to rebite the passages in question
very slightly, which gives to the burin-lines the appearance of etched

In short: use the graver with great circumspection, as its application
to works of the needle is a very delicate matter, and gives to an
etching a character different from that which we are striving for. It
seems to me that to employ it on a free etching, done on the spur of the
moment, would be like throwing a phrase from Bossuet into the midst of a
lively conversation.[17]

76. =Sandpaper.=--As regards other mechanical means, be distrustful of
tints obtained by rubbing the copper with sandpaper; these tints
generally show in the proof as muddy spots, and are wanting in
freshness. Avoid the process, because of its difficulty of application.
Only a very skilful engraver can put it to good uses.

77. =Sulphur Tints.=--I shall be less afraid to see you make use of
_flowers of sulphur_ for the purpose of harmonizing or increasing the
weight of a tint. The sulphur is mixed with oil, so as to form a
homogeneous paste thick enough to be laid on with a brush.

By the action of these two substances the polish on the plate is
destroyed, and the result in printing is a fresh and soft tint, which
blends agreeably with the work of the needle.

Differences in value are easily obtained by allowing the sulphur to
remain on the plate for a greater or less period of time. This species
of biting acts more readily in hot weather; a few minutes are sufficient
to produce a firm tint. In cold weather relatively more time is needed.
The corrosions produced in this way have quite a dark appearance on the
plate, but they produce much lighter tints in printing. If you are not
satisfied with the result obtained, you can rub it out with charcoal,
as the copper is corroded only quite superficially.

Owing to this extreme slightness of biting, the burnisher may also be
used to reduce any parts which are to stand out white.

This process, as you see, is very accommodating; but it is too much like
mezzotint or aquatint, and, furthermore, it can only be applied in flat
tints, without modelling. I have, nevertheless, explained it to you, so
that you may be able to use it, if you should have a notion to do so, as
a matter of curiosity, but with reserve. It is better to use the dry
point, which has more affinity to the processes natural to etching.

[Illustration: Plate V.]

78. =Mottled Tints.=--You may also make use of the following process
(but with the same restrictions) in the representation of parts of old
walls, of rocks and earth, or of passages to which you desire to impart
the character of a sort of artistic disorder:--Distribute a quantity of
ordinary etching-ground on a copper plate sufficiently heated; then take
your dabber, and, having charged it unequally with varnish, and having
also heated your etched plate, press the dabber on the passages which
are to receive the tint; the varnish adheres to the plate in an
irregular manner, leaving the copper bare here and there. Now stop out
with the brush those parts which you desire to protect, and bite in with
pure acid; the result will be a curiously mottled irregular tint (see
Pl. V. Fig. 2). Properly used in the representation of subjects on which
you are at liberty to exercise your fancy, this process will give you
unexpected and often happy results.

79. =Stopping-out before all Biting.=--Before we proceed, I must show
you an easy method of representing a thunder-storm (see Pl. V. Fig.
2):--Work the sky with the needle, very closely, so as to get the sombre
tints of the clouds; and, before biting, trace the streaks of lightning
on the etched work with a brush and stopping-out varnish; being thus
protected against the acid, these streaks will show white in the
printing, and the effect will be neater and more natural than if you had
attempted to obtain it by the needle itself, as you will avoid the
somewhat hard outlines on either side of the lightning, which would
otherwise have been necessary to indicate it.

You can employ the same process for effects of moonlight, for reflected
lights on water, and, in fact, for all light lines which it is difficult
to pick out on a dark ground.


80. =Zink Plates.=--So far I have spoken to you of copper plates only;
but etchings are also executed on zink and on steel. Zink bites rapidly,
and needs only one quarter of the time necessary for copper, with the
same strength of acid; or, with the same length of time, an acid of ten
degrees is sufficient. The biting is coarse, and without either delicacy
or depth. A zink plate prints only a small edition.[18]

81. =Steel Plates.=--Steel also bites with great rapidity. One part of
acid to seven of water is sufficient; and the biting is accomplished, on
the average, in from one to five minutes, from the faintest distance to
the strongest foreground.

Free, artistic etchings are very rarely executed on steel, which is more
particularly used in other kinds of engraving.


82. =Soft Ground Etching.=--There is a kind of etching known as
_soft-ground etching_, and but little practised at present, which was
successfully cultivated about thirty years ago by Louis Marvy and
Masson. The engravers of the last century used to call it _gravure en
manière de crayon_.[19]

[Illustration: Plate VI.]

Take a ball of common etching-ground, and melt it in the water-bath in a
small vessel, adding to it, in winter, an equal volume, and in summer
only one-third of the same volume, of tallow. Let the mixture cool, form
it into a ball, and wrap it up in a piece of very fine silk. Ground your
plate in the usual way, and smoke lightly. On this soft ground fix a
piece of very thin paper having a grain, and on the paper thus attached
to the plate, execute your design with a lead-pencil. Wherever the
pencil passes, the varnish sticks to the paper in proportion to the
pressure of the hand; and, on carefully removing the sheet, it takes up
the varnish that adheres to it. Bite the plate, and the result will be a
facsimile of the design executed on the paper. (See Pl. VI.)

If the proofs are too soft, or wanting in decision, the plate may
be worked over with the needle, by regrounding, and then rebiting it.
The first state can thus be elaborated like an ordinary etching, and the
necessary precision can be given to it whenever the idea to be expressed
is vaguely or insufficiently rendered; or the same end may be reached by
the dry point. In either case, however, all the retouches must be
executed by irregular stippling, so that they may harmonize with the
result of the first biting. Otherwise there will be a lack of
homogeneity in the appearance of etchings of this sort, in which the
grain of the paper plays an important part. Smooth paper gives no result
whatever. The paper used may have a coarse grain or a fine grain, at the
pleasure of the etcher, or papers of different grain may be used in the
same design. This style of etching requires great care in handling the
plate, on account of the tenderness of the ground. In drawing, a
_hand-rest_ must be used, so that the hand may not touch the plate.

[Illustration: Plate VII.]

83. =Dry Point Etching.=--The _dry point_ is also used for etching,
without the intervention of the acid-bath. The design is executed with
the dry point on the bare copper; the difference in values is obtained
by the greater or less amount of pressure used, and by the difference in
the distance between the lines. (See Plate VII.) The brilliancy of
effect which etchings of this kind may or may not possess, depends on
the use made of the _scraper_ (see paragraph 49, p. 33).

You will find it convenient to varnish and smoke your plate, to begin
with, and to trace the leading lines of your design on the ground,
taking care to cut lightly into the copper with the point. Then remove
the varnish, and continue your drawing, guided by these general

It is best to commence with the sky, or other delicate passages, and to
remove the bur from them, if there are other stronger lines to be drawn
over them.

You can see perfectly well what you are doing, by rubbing a little
lamp-black mixed with tallow into the lines as you proceed, and cleaning
the plate with the flat of your hand; in this way you can control your
work, and can carry it forward until it is finished, either by removing
more or less of the bur, or by allowing all of it to stand, or by the
elaboration of those passages which seem to need it. The lines show on
the plate as they are intended to show on the paper. You can therefore
bring out your subject by shading; you can lay vigorous lines over lines
from which the bur has been removed; you can take out, and you can put
in. The effect produced in the printing is velvety and strong, similar
to that produced by the stump on paper. Rembrandt employed the dry
point, without scraping, in some of his principal etchings.

84. =The Pen Process.=--I must now speak to you of a process which
offers certain advantages. Clean your plate thoroughly, first with
turpentine, and then with whiting, and take care not to touch the
polished surface with your fingers. Execute a design on the bare copper
with the pen and ordinary ink. You must not, of course, expect to find
in the pen the same delicacy as in the needle.

The design having been finished and thoroughly dried, ground and smoke
your plate without, for the present, taking any further notice of the
design; but be sure to see to it that the coat of varnish is not too
thick; then lay the plate into water, and let it stay there for a
quarter of an hour. Having withdrawn the plate, rub it lightly with a
piece of flannel; the ink, having been softened by the water, comes off,
together with the varnish which covers it, and leaves the design in
well-defined lines on the copper, which you may now bite.

You may work either with one pen and several bitings, or with several
pens of various degrees of fineness and one biting.

As in the case of soft ground etching, you may make additions with the
needle to give delicacy.

It is necessary to ground the plate and to soak it in water as soon as
may be after the finishing of the design. At the end of two days, the
ink refuses to rub off.



85. =Wax Proofs.=--Our first desire, after the ground has been removed
from the plate, is to see a proof. If you have no press, and yet desire
to take proofs of your work after each biting, you may employ the
following process to good advantage:--

Take a sheet of very thin paper, a little larger than your plate, and
cover it with a thin layer of melted wax. The latter must be real white
wax. Then sprinkle a little lamp-black on your engraved plate, and
distribute it with your finger, so as to rub it into the lines; clean
the surface of the plate by carefully passing the palm of your hand over
it. Now lay the sheet of paper on the plate, with its waxed surface
down, and be sure to turn the edges of the paper over on the back of the
plate, so as to prevent its moving; then rub with the burnisher in all
directions. The lamp-black sticks to the wax, and is sure to give an
approximate image, sufficient to guide you in the further prosecution of
your work, if that should be necessary.[20]

86. =The Printing-Press.=--These proofs, however, as well as those which
were hurriedly printed for you so far, give only a mere idea of your
work, without conveying its full meaning. If you desire to become
acquainted with all the resources of the printing-press, you will have
to go to a plate printer. It is well worth your while to acquire this
knowledge, also, after you have familiarized yourself with the various
processes at the command of the etcher.

Here, then, is the printer at his press: at his side there is a box made
of sheet-iron, enclosing a chafing-dish; there are also printing-ink, a
ball for inking, rags, and paper.[21] He is about to explain the use
made of these things to our young student, who delivers his plate to
him, and is anxious to be instructed in all that relates to the taking
of impressions.

87. =Natural Printing.=--The printer now begins his explanations as

I place the plate on the sheet-iron box (the plate-warmer); it there
acquires the necessary degree of heat, and I then spread the printing
ink over it by means of this ball; the ink penetrates into the lines,
and completely covers the whole surface of the plate; I remove the
excess of ink with a coarse muslin rag, precisely as this is done in all
other kinds of plate printing; I now clean the plate with the palm of my
hand, so that no ink is left on it anywhere but in the lines; I finally
wipe the margins of the plate evenly, so as to leave a delicate tint on
the etched part only, and then I put the plate into the press. The plate
is laid on the travelling-board or bed of the press, which runs between
two cylinders of iron or hard wood; on the plate I lay a piece of paper,
slightly moistened, and I cover the whole with several thicknesses of
flannel; I turn the wheel of the press, and the cylinders, turning on
themselves, carry along the travelling-board, which, in passing between
them, is subjected to great pressure. The paper is thus pressed into the
lines on the plate, and this process is facilitated by the elasticity of
the flannel. You see now that your plate has come out on the other side
of the rollers (or cylinders): we have given the press only one turn,
although, as a rule, the plate is passed through the press twice, by
making it travel back again under the rollers. This imparts strength to
the impression; but occasionally the lines are not rendered as
delicately and with as much precision, as with only one turn. I remove
the flannel, and very carefully lift the paper; it has absorbed the ink:
we have before us a _natural proof_, which shows the exact state of the
plate (see Pl. I.). Line-engravings are printed in the same manner; with
this difference, however, that the tint, more or less apparent, which is
preserved on an etching, is not allowed to remain on a plate engraved
with the burin.

88. =Artificial Printing.=--The printing of etchings very frequently
differs from the simple method just described. It must be varied
according to the style of execution adopted by the etcher; and, as much
of the harmony of the plate may depend upon it, it sometimes rises to
the dignity of an art, in which the artist and the printer are merged
into each other,--the printer losing himself in the artist, as he is
compelled to enter into the latter's ideas; and the artist giving way to
the printer, to avail himself of his practical experience. The proof
from your plate, for instance, has a dry look (see Pl. I.); it needs
more softness, and this can be given to it by the printer.[D] (See Pl.

  [D] It would be a great advantage if every etcher could print his own
  proofs. Rembrandt is the most striking example, as he was the author
  of many of the devices in use even to-day. A press can easily be
  procured. The firm of Ve. Cadart, Paris, has had a little portable
  press constructed, especially for the use of artists and amateurs. All
  the necessary accessories for printing can also be obtained of this
  firm. (See Note 22.)

I will now explain to you some of the various artifices which are
employed in printing.

89. =Handwiping with Retroussage.=--Having _wiped the plate with the
palm of the hand_, we might _bring it up again (la retrousser)_ by
playing over it very lightly with a piece of soft muslin rag rolled
together. The muslin draws the ink out of the lines, and spreads it
along their edges, so that, in the proof, the space between the lines is
filled up by a vigorous tint. But this process can only be used on
plates in which the lines are evenly disposed throughout, and, more
especially, scattered. To produce the proper effect the _retroussage_
must be general; because, if the rag passes over one passage only, and
not over the others, or, if it is brought into play only on the dark
parts, and not in the lights, there will be discordance of tone, and
consequently want of harmony. In the present case, therefore,
_retroussage_ would be unsatisfactory, because the work on your plate,
while it is broadly treated in some parts, is so close in others that
there is no room left between the furrows. It follows that there is no
place for the ink, drawn out of the lines, to spread on; the result
would be a muddy tint,--one of those overcharged impressions which bring
criticism upon the printer, because he has applied _retroussage_ to a
plate which did not need it.

90. =Tinting with a Stiff Rag.=--Let us now try another means. The proof
will gain in freshness if we soften the lines by going over the plate,
_after it has been wiped with the hand_, somewhat more heavily with
_stiff muslin_. Owing to the pressure used, the rag, instead of carrying
away the ink which it has taken up out of the lines, retains it; a tint
like that produced by the stump is spread over the plate, and envelops
the lines without obscuring them; the proof is supple and velvety. (See
Pl. II.)

91. =Wiping with the Rag only.=--Here is another variety. I am just
printing a number of original plates by different artists. Being true
painter's etchings, some of these plates are boldly accentuated and
heavily bitten; the lines are widely apart, and significant. If these
plates were printed _naturally_, they would yield bare and poor-looking
proofs. Wiping with the hand would be useless. I therefore go over the
plate with _stiff_ muslin. In the same manner I continue and finish, so
as to give the greatest amount of cleaning to the luminous passages,
while a tolerably strong tint is left on the dark and deeply bitten

Or I might have wiped the plate energetically with soft muslin, and then
might have brought up again certain passages with a soft and somewhat
cleaner rag.

This method of wiping, which leaves on the surface of the plate a tint
of more or less depth, must not be confounded with _retroussage_. Here
is a proof of one of the plates of which I spoke to you: it is well
sustained at all points; the lines are full and nourished; the general
aspect is harmonious and energetic; the lights are softened; the
strongly marked passages are enveloped in a warm tint. One might almost
say that the effect of painting has been carried into etching.

This method is employed for plates which have been deeply bitten, but
upon which stopping-out has been used but sparingly, for works in which
there is sobriety of expression, or for sketches (see Pl. VIII.). It is
all the more necessary, sometimes, for the printer to take the
initiative, the simpler the plate has been etched; it is left to him, in
short, to complete the intention merely indicated by the artist.

[Illustration: Plate VIII.]

92. =Limits of Artificial Printing.=--These examples have shown to you
that difference in tone depends on the amount of pressure, and the
variety of texture in the muslin. It is oftentimes necessary--and this
is an affair of tact--to make use of these diverse qualities of the
muslin on the same plate,--now reducing an over-strong tint by more
vigorous wiping; now giving renewed force to it, in case it has become
too soft.

These various means constitute the art of printing etchings. But, while
fully recognizing their efficiency when they are used to the purpose, we
must also keep in mind the dangers which arise from their being applied
without discernment. Plates produced by an intelligent combination of
bitings, must be printed naturally, if they are not to lose the absolute
character given to them by the needle and the acid. If they are at all
wiped with the rag, so as to impart more softness to them, it must, at
least, be done with the greatest of care.

The artist has every thing to gain, therefore, by watching over the
printing of his plates, and instructing the printer as to the manner in
which he desires to be interpreted. Some etchers prefer the simplicity
of the natural state; but the great majority favor the other method of
printing, which, for the very reason that it is difficult, and on
account of the many variations in its application, ought always to be an
object of interest to the printer, and the aim of his studies. It is,
moreover, the method which is generally understood and adopted by our
first etchers.[22]

93. =Printing Inks.=--The quality and the shade of the ink, as well as
the way in which it is ground, are of great importance in the beauty of
a proof. Inks are made of pure black, slightly tempered with bistre or
burnt sienna, and the shade can be varied according to taste. A plate
like yours needs a delicate black, composed of Frankfort black and
lamp-black; the bistre-tint, which, in the course of time, loses its
freshness and strength, would not answer. This tint is always best
suited to strongly bitten work, but in your case it would be
insufficient. A very strong black, on the other hand, would make your
etching look hard. This last shade--pure, or very slightly broken with
bistre--is preferable for strongly accented plates.[23]

94. =Paper.=--_Laid paper_ is the most suitable paper for printing
etchings; its sparkle produces a marvellous effect; its strength defies
time itself.

Some artists and amateurs ransack the shops for old paper with brown and
dingy edges, which, to certain plates, imparts the appearance of old

_India paper (Chinese paper)_ promotes purity of line; but, as its
surface is dull, it furnishes somewhat dry and dim proofs.

_Japanese paper_, of a warm yellowish tint, silky and transparent, is
excellent, especially for plates which need more of mystery than of
brilliancy, for heavy and deep tones, and for concentration of effect.
Japanese paper absorbs the ink, and it is necessary, therefore, to bring
up (_retrousser_) the plate strongly, and to wipe it with the rag. This
paper is less favorable to sketches, the precise, free, and widely
spaced lines of which accommodate themselves better to the tint of the
laid paper.

_Parchment_ may also be used for proofs; nothing equals the beauty of
such proofs, printed either naturally, or wiped with the rag; they are
the treasures of collectors.[24]

95. =Épreuves Volantes.=--On Chinese and Japanese paper, as well as on
parchment, so-called _épreuves volantes_ (flying proofs) are printed;
that is to say, loose proofs, which are not pasted down on white paper.
They are simply attached to Bristol board by the two upper corners,
which brings them out perfectly.

96. =Proofs before Lettering.=--All of these various kinds of paper,
each of which has its own claim for excellence, and especially Japanese
paper, are by preference used for artists' proofs and proofs before
lettering, which are printed before the title is engraved on the plate.
It is customary to print a greater or less number of such proofs, which,
being struck off when the plate is still quite fresh, show it at its
best. After that, the plate is lettered, and an ordinary edition is
printed from it.

It follows from this that the possessor of a proof without title has the
best the plate can afford to give. But, as the pictures by the masters
do not stand in need of a signature to be recognized, so the proofs
before lettering may well do without the guaranty which is found in the
absence of a title; even without this guaranty an amateur knows how to
recognize the virgin freshness of an early impression, which is still
further augmented by the extreme care bestowed on the printing of these
exceptional proofs, but which cannot be kept up through a long edition.

97. =Épreuves de Remarque.=--_Épreuves de remarque_ (marked proofs),
showing the different states of the plate, and the various modifications
which it underwent, are also sought after. Their rarity increases their

98. =Number of Impressions which a Plate is capable of yielding.=--The
number of impressions which a plate can yield is not fixed, as the power
of resisting the wear and tear of printing depends largely on the
delicacy or the strength of the work. The quality of the copper must
also be considered, a soft plate giving way much faster than a hard
plate which has been well hammered. The plates prepared to-day do not
resist as well as those formerly made; and as the popularity of works of
art multiplied by the press has considerably increased, it became
necessary to look about for means by which the surface of a copper plate
may be hardened, and be made to yield a large edition. This has been
accomplished by

99. =Steel-facing.=--_Steel-facing_, which was invented by Messrs.
Salmon and Garnier, and which M. Jacquin undertook to render
practicable, consists in depositing a coating of veritable steel, by
galvanic action, on the face of the copper plate, or, in other words, by
the superposition of a hard metal on a soft metal.

This mode of protection, which perfectly preserves the most delicate
passages, even down to the almost invisible scratches of the dry point,
not only guarantees the copper against the contact of the hand and the
rag, which would tell on it more than the pressure of the rollers, but
at the same time makes it possible to print a thousand proofs of equal
purity. Certain plates, owing to the manner of wiping used on them, do
not reach this figure; others, more simply printed, may yield three to
four thousand proofs, and sometimes even a still larger number.

As soon as the plate shows the slightest change, or the copper begins to
reappear, the coating of steel is removed by chemical agents, which,
acting differently on the two metals, corrode the one, while they leave
the other untouched. The plate is thus brought back to its original
state, and is therefore in the same condition as before to receive a
second steel-facing. In this way plates may be _de-steeled_ and
_re-steeled_ a great many times, and the proofs printed from them may be
carried up to considerable quantities.

As a rule, the plates are not steel-faced until after the proofs before
lettering have been printed.

Soft-ground etchings, the biting of which is quite shallow, must be
steel-faced after two to three hundred impressions.

The delicacy of the bur thrown up by the dry point hardly permits the
printing of more than twenty or thirty proofs on an average;
steel-facing carries this number up to a point which cannot be fixed
absolutely, but it is certain that the bur takes the steel quite as well
and as solidly as an etched line. Dry points may, therefore, yield long
editions; the steel-facing must in that case be renewed whenever

100. =Copper-facing Zink Plates.=--Zink plates cannot be steel-faced,
but they can be copper-faced.[27] Steel-facing has been adopted by the
Chalcographic Office of the Louvre, and by the _Gazette des Beaux Arts_,
that remarkable and unique publication which is an honor to criticism
and is found in all art libraries. Steel-facing, in fact, is universally
employed; it preserves in good condition the beautiful plates of our
engravers, and makes it possible to put within reach of a great many
people engravings of a choice kind, which but lately were found only in
the _salons_ of the rich and the collections of passionate amateurs.

[Illustration: AN ETCHER'S STUDIO.

From the Third Edition of Abraham Bosse's "Treatise," Paris, 1758.]

[Illustration: Croquis d'après nature, pour servir de modèles, 1877.

Le Waag, Amsterdam.]



[1] (p. 2.) To these associations may be added the German Etching Clubs
at Düsseldorf and at Weimar, which issue yearly portfolios of plates
executed by their members, and the American Etching Clubs at New York
and at Cincinnati. The New York Etching Club was organized in April,
1877, with Dr. L. M. Yale as its first president. At this writing Mr.
James D. Smillie is the presiding officer of the club, which has about
twenty-four members, including many of the leading artists of New York.
The Cincinnati Etching Club is composed almost entirely of amateurs. Its
president is Mr. George McLaughlin. Quite lately an Etching Club has
also been formed in Boston, with Mr. Edmund H. Garrett as president.

[2] (p. 3.) Benzine is preferable to turpentine for most of the
operations of the etcher, but more especially for cleaning soiled hands.
It is advisable to use turpentine only when the benzine proves
insufficient to remove the last traces of ground or ink from the lines.

[3] (p. 9.) Something about tools and materials has already been said in
the Introductory Chapter, p. xiv. What is left to be said follows

_Copper plates_, from visiting-card size (at $1 per dozen), to any
required size can be bought of, or ordered through, the firms named on
p. xiii, or of Mr. Geo. B. Sharp, 45 Gold St., New York. Mr. Sharp will
send price-lists on application. The plates usually sold, at least of
the smaller sizes, are made of an alloy, not of pure copper. These alloy
plates are cheaper and bite more quickly than those of pure copper, but
it happens occasionally that they do not bite evenly, owing to want of
homogeneity in the metal. Still, they are extensively used, and amateurs
will find them preferable to the more expensive copper plates.

_Etching-ground._ A recipe for a cheap and yet a very good ordinary
ground has been given on p. xv. The transparent ground consists of

  5 parts, by weight, of white wax.
  3   "         "        gum-mastic.

Gum-mastic costs about thirty-five cents an ounce. Melt the wax first,
and add the gum-mastic in powder gradually, stirring all the while with
a clean glass or metal rod.

_Stopping-out varnish._ (See p. xvi.) There is a varnish sold at
painters' supply-stores under the name of "Asphaltum Varnish for
Sign-Writers' Use," which does very well. In Boston Asahel Wheeler sells
it at fifteen cents a bottle.

_Needle-holders_ are unnecessary if the points described on p. xvi are

_Burnishers_ are sold at the hardware-stores, or by dealers in
watchmakers' materials. They ought not to cost above fifty cents apiece.

_Scrapers._ Same as burnishers. Price not above $1. Some dealers ask $2,
which is exorbitant.

_A lens_ can be obtained of any optician. In Boston they can also be had
of A.J. Wilkinson & Co., hardware dealers, 184 Washington St., at prices
varying from $1 to $1.50.

_India-rubber finger-gloves_ are unnecessary if you use the
"plate-lifter" described on p. xvii.

_Nitric acid._ Messrs. Powers & Weightman's "Nitric Acid, C. P." (i. e.
chemically pure), recommended on p. xvii, is 42 degrees, and Messrs. P.
& W. inform me that the strength is tolerably uniform. If you are an
enthusiastic etcher it will be best to buy a seven-pound bottle, which
is the next largest to the one-pound bottles.

_Tracing-paper_, _gelatine_, _chalk_, and _sanguine_ can be obtained at
the artists' material stores.

_Emery-paper._ Hardware-stores. Price four cents a sheet.

_Roller for revarnishing._ See Note 5.

To the tools and materials mentioned by M. Lalanne the following must be
added: _Whiting_, _benzine_, _turpentine_, _alcohol_, _willow charcoal_.
The last-named article can be supplied by Mr. Geo. B. Sharp, of 45 Gold
St., New York, before mentioned.

[4] (p. 11.) I wrote to M. Lalanne to find out the ingredients of the
_petit vernis liquide_ and _vernis au pinceau_, but he says that he does
not know, and that the recipes are a secret of the maker of these
varnishes. The asphaltum varnish mentioned on p. xvi and in Note 3 does
excellently well, however, both for stopping out and retouching. After
it has been fanned (see p. xxi) until it has thickened sufficiently not
to stick to the finger when touched, but before it is quite dry, it can
be worked upon with the point. If not dry enough, which will manifest
itself readily as soon as you have drawn the first line, fan again. If
it were allowed to dry absolutely, it would chip off under the needle.
There is a liquid ground, made by Mr. Louis Delnoce of the American Bank
Note Company, New York, which--so Mr. Jas. D. Smillie informs me--is
used for retouches by the engravers of the company, is applied with the
brush, is a very quick dryer, tough, and resists acid perfectly. Mr.
Delnoce sells it in ounce bottles at seventy-five cents each.

[5] (p. 12.) The roller for revarnishing, spoken of by M. Lalanne, and
also recommended by Mr. Hamerton, cannot be bought in this country.
Nor--with all due deference to the great experience of M. Lalanne--is
such a large and expensive roller necessary. The rollers used by our
most experienced etchers--Mr. Jas. D. Smillie, for instance--are little
cylinders of India-rubber, about one inch in diameter and one and
one-half inches long. They cost from 50 cents to $2 each. _But these
rollers cannot be used with etching-paste._ The oil of lavender in the
paste attacks the rubber and destroys it. As to the manner of using the
India-rubber roller see Note 12.

[6] (p. 20.) The use of bordering wax is not advisable. But as some
etchers still employ it, I add a recipe for making it, which was kindly
communicated to me by Mr. Peter Moran of Philadelphia:--

  3 lbs. Burgundy pitch.
  1 lb. yellow beeswax.
  1 gill sweet oil.

Melt together and then form into strips.

[7] (p. 21.) Etching is the most individual of the reproductive arts (or
rather of the _multiplying_ arts, the German _vervielfältigende
Künste_), even in its technical processes. Therefore nearly every etcher
has his own ways of doing, and few agree on all points. Many etchers do
not think it necessary to weaken the acid as described in the text. But
be sure to let it _cool_ after it has been mixed with water, before you
immerse your plate!

[8] (p. 22.) It would take altogether too long to wait for the _perfect_
drying of the asphaltum varnish, nor is it necessary. Fan it, as
described in Note 4, and as soon as it ceases to stick you can again
immerse your plate.

[9] (p. 25.) I have never been able to notice this turning dark of the
lines, although I have had plates in the bath for several hours, and
some of my artist acquaintances whom I have consulted on the point, have
confirmed my experience. Possibly the phenomenon described by M. Lalanne
may be caused by impurities in the acid.

[10] (p. 27.) If the reader will make use of the device for lifting the
plate into and out of the bath, which I have described on p. xvii, there
will be no necessity of burning his fingers. With a little precaution,
and a plentiful use of benzine for washing and cleaning, the daintiest
lady's hand need not suffer from etching.

[11] (p. 29.) For directions for making this ground see Note 3.

[12] (p. 38.) To make the varnish, or rather etching-paste, recommended
in the text, a warm-water bath is not absolutely necessary.

Take any small porcelain or earthenware vessel (a small gallipot is very
convenient, because the etching-paste can be kept in it for use), and
set it upon a metal frame, easily made of wire, so that you can
introduce a spirit lamp under it. Break up a ball, or part of a ball, of
ordinary etching-ground, and throw it into the pot. Heat the pot
carefully, so as just to allow the ground to melt. When it has melted,
add oil of lavender (worth thirty-five cents an ounce at the
druggist's), drop by drop, and keep stirring the mixture with a clean
glass rod. From time to time allow a drop of the mixture to fall on a
cold glass or metal plate. If, on cooling, it assumes the consistency of
pomatum, the paste is finished.

As I have said before, this paste cannot be used with the India-rubber
rollers recommended in Note 5. With these rollers the regrounding must
be done with the ordinary etching-ground with the aid of heat. Warm your
plate so that you can just bear to touch it with the hand, and allow
some of the ground to melt on a second, unused copper plate. Also warm
the roller slightly. Then proceed as M. Lalanne directs in his
fifty-seventh paragraph. The slight changes in the proceeding, which
grow out of the differences between cold and warm ground, are

It is hardly necessary to say that the roller can also be used for
laying the first ground. _But it is of no use on any but perfectly
smooth, straight plates, as it cannot penetrate into hollows._ When it
is not available the dabber must be employed in the old manner.

[13] (p. 39.) Some engravers prefer the dabber to the roller even for
regrounding entire plates. In that case the ground is spread on the
margin of the plate, if that be wide enough, or on a separate plate, and
is taken up by the dabber. The plate to be regrounded must of course be
warmed as for laying a ground with the roller, and care must be taken
not to have the dabber overcharged with ground.

[14] (p. 40.) In default of the charcoal-paste, rubbing with the finest
emery-paper will do to remove the polish.

[15] (p. 40.) I cannot direct the reader to a copper-planer, and
therefore it will be best to give some directions for removing faulty
passages. The following paragraphs are copied bodily from Mr.

"The most rapid way is to use sandpapers of different degrees of
coarseness, the coarsest first, and then the scraper, and, finally,
willow charcoal with olive oil. The charcoal will leave the surface in a
fit state to etch upon.

"This scraping and rubbing hollows out the surface of the copper, and
if it hollows it too much the printing will not be quite satisfactory in
that part of the plate. In that case you have nothing to do but mark the
spot on the back of the plate with a pair of calipers, then lay the
plate on its face upon a block of polished steel, and give it two or
three blows with a hammer (mind that the hammer is rounded so as not to
indent the copper)."

[16] (p. 48.) The process here alluded to is the one used by Mr. Haden.
The mordant is the so-called Dutch mordant, and the manner of making it
is thus described by Mr. Hamerton:--

"First heat the water by putting the bottle containing it into a pan
also containing water, and keep it on the fire till that in the pan
boils. Now add the chlorate of potash, and see that every crystal of it
is dissolved. Shake the bottle to help the solution. When no more
crystals are to be seen, you may add the hydrochloric acid. Make a good
quantity of this mordant at once, so as always to have a plentiful
supply by you."

For a full account of the Haden process see Mr. Hamerton's "Etcher's
Handbook," or the second edition of his "Etching and Etchers."

This Dutch mordant is preferred to nitric acid by many etchers,--even
when working, not in the bath, but in the ordinary way, as taught by M.
Lalanne,--because it bites down into the copper, and hardly widens the
lines. "From my experience," writes Mr. Jas. D. Smillie, in a letter now
before me, "I unhesitatingly prefer the Dutch mordant for copper; it
bites a very fine black line, it is not so severe a trial to the ground,
and it does not need constant watching."

Mr. Smillie, however, uses the mordant much stronger than Mr. Haden. He
has, in fact, invented a process of his own, which, in a letter to me,
he describes as follows:--

"I draw and bite as I progress; that is, I draw in the darkest parts
first, give them a good nip with the mordant, wash the plate and dry it,
and then draw the next stage. I can thus, by drawing lines over a part
that has already been exposed to the mordant, interlace heavy and light
lines in a way that I could not by any other process. I etch upon an
unsmoked ground, and as the Dutch mordant bites a _black_ line, I see my
etching clearly as it advances, By holding the head well over the plate,
the lines can be very distinctly seen as they are drawn. After a little
experimenting, the etcher will find the angle at which he can see his
unbitten work upon an unsmoked ground without trouble. Mr. Hamerton's
formula seemed to me too weak, so I am experimenting with

  Muriatic acid,       1 ounce.
  Chlorate of potash, 1-5  "
  Water,               5 ounces.

"This is the mordant I am now using, and I have found it to work well.
Still, as I am not a scientific chemist, and my knowledge is entirely
empiric, I am prepared to believe any chemist who may tell me that I
might do as well, or better, with more water.

"Generally I do not get all the color I wish by the first process, as I
can see without removing the ground; so, when my etching is finished, I
reverse the engine and begin stopping out and biting upon the original
ground, as it is ordinarily done. I do not use the black asphaltum
varnish for stopping out, but a transparent varnish that is simply
white resin dissolved in alcohol. If applied very carefully, and allowed
time to dry, it is perfectly clear and transparent, and the relations of
all parts of the plate can be seen,--the stopped out as well as the
bitten lines,--but to a careless worker it presents many troubles. It is
so transparent that it is hard to see what is stopped out and what is
not, and if washed with very warm water, or before it is thoroughly dry,
it turns cloudy and semi-opaque. I have no trouble with it, and could
not get along without it. I make it myself,--have no formula,--adding
alcohol until it is thin enough to flow readily from the brush. It has a
great advantage over asphaltum varnish, as it does not flow along a
line. It is viscid enough to remain just where it is put, and is as
perfect a protection as any asphaltum varnish."

Mr. Smillie heats his bath on the plate-warmer, but not to exceed 80°,
or at most 90°. Such a bath of hot mordant acts much more quickly than a
cold acid bath, less than two minutes being sufficient for the lightest

[17] (p. 50.) Gravers are of different shapes, according to the nature
of the line which they are intended to produce. They are sometimes kept
at the hardware-stores, as, for instance, by A. J. Wilkinson & Co., 184
Washington St., Boston. This house also issues an illustrated catalogue
of engravers' tools.

[18] (p. 52.) M. Lalanne, it seems to me, does not do full justice to
zinc plates. Very delicate lines can be bitten on zinc if the acid is
sufficiently weakened. I have found that one part of nitric acid to
eight parts of water, used on zinc, is about equal to one-half acid and
one-half water, used on copper for about the same length of time. Zinc
plates can also be bought of Mr. Geo. B. Sharp, 45 Gold St., New York.
As to the length of edition that can be printed from a zinc plate, see
Note 27.

[19] (p. 52.) This is not strictly correct. The "manière de crayon," as
practised by Demarteau and others, differs materially from soft-ground
etching. A ground was laid and smoked as usual, and on it the drawing
was produced, by a variety of instruments, such as points, some of them
multiple, the roulette, the mattoir, etc.

[20] (p. 55.) There is another method of getting what may be called a
proof, i. e. by taking a cast in plaster. Ink your plate and wipe it
clean, as described in Note 22, and then pour over it plaster-of-Paris
mixed with water. When the plaster has hardened it can easily be
separated from the plate, and the ink in the lines will adhere to it. To
make such a cast you must manage a rim around your plate, or you may lay
it into a paper box, face upward. Mix about half a tumbler full of water
(or more, according to the size of the plate) with double the quantity
of plaster, adding the plaster, little by little, and stirring
continually. When the mixture begins to thicken pour it on the plate,
and if necessary spread it over the whole of the surface by means of a
piece of wood or anything else that will answer. Then allow it to

[21] (p. 55.) The chafing-dish and the ball (or dabber) are now replaced
by the gas flame and the inking-roller in most printing establishments.
But if you desire to do your own proving, you will have to use a dabber,
the manner of making which is described in the next note.

[22] (p. 59.) If there is no plate-printer near you, but you have access
to a lithographic printing establishment, you can have your proofs taken
there. "Lithographic presses," says A. Potémont, "give perfectly good
and satisfactory proofs of etchings."

Not every printer can print an etching as it ought to be printed. A man
may be an excellent printer of line engravings and mezzotints, and yet
may be totally unfit to print an etching. I would recommend the
following printing establishments:--

New York: Kimmel & Voigt, 242 Canal Street. Boston: J. H. Daniels, 223
Washington Street.

If you desire to establish an amateur printing-office of your own you
will need, in addition to the tools and materials already in your

  A press,
  A plate-warmer,
  An ink-slab,
  A muller,
  A dabber or ball,
  Rags for wiping,

_The press._ The presses used by professional plate-printers will be
thought too large and too costly by most etchers. There is a small press
sold by Madame Ve. A. Cadart, 56 Boulevard Haussmann, Paris, of which a
representation is given on the next page.

This press, accompanied by all the necessary accessories,--rags, ink,
paper, plate-warmer, dabber, etc.,--sells in Paris at the price of 150
francs (about $30). There is an extra charge for boxing; and freight,
duties, etc., must also be paid for, extra, on presses imported to this
country. The publishers of this book are ready to take orders for these
presses, but I cannot inform the reader what the charges will amount to,
as no importations have yet been made by Messrs. Estes & Lauriat.

There is also a small press invented by Mr. Hamerton and made in London
by Mr. Charles Roberson, 99 Long Acre, which sells on the other side,
for the press only, at two guineas for the smallest, and four guineas
for a larger size. These presses are smaller than the Cadart presses,
and, according to Mr. Hamerton, are "very portable affairs, which an
etcher might put in his box when travelling, and use anywhere, in an
inn, in a friend's house, or even out of doors when etching from

A small press has also quite lately been introduced by Messrs. Janentzky
& Co., of Philadelphia, which costs only $16.50 (without accessories),
and is well recommended by those who have used it.


The press is not complete without the flannels spoken of in the text (p.
56, § 87). There is a kind of very thick flannel specially made for
printers' use. But if this cannot be had (of some plate-printer) any
good flannel with a piece of thick soft cloth over it will do well

In adjusting the press care must be taken that the pressure is neither
too great nor too small. This is a matter of experience.

_The plate-warmer_ is a box made of strong sheet-iron, into which either
a gas-jet or a small kerosene lamp can be introduced. If you happen to
have a gas-stove, and can get an iron plate of some kind to lay across
the top, you will have an excellent plate-warmer.

_The ink-slab._ Any _smooth_ slab of marble, slate, or lithographic
stone, about a foot square, will do.

_A muller._ This is a pestle of stone, flat at the bottom, used for
grinding colors or ink.

_A dabber or ball._ Take strips of thick cloth or flannel, about four or
five inches wide; roll them together as tightly as possible, until you
have a cylinder of two or three inches in diameter; bind firmly by
strong twine wound all around the cylinder; then cut one end with a
large sharp knife, so as to get a smooth surface. After the dabber has
been used for some time, and the ink has hardened in it, cut off another
slice so as to get a fresh surface.

_Rags for wiping._ Fine Swiss muslin and the fabric known as cheese
cloth make good rags for wiping. They can be bought at the dry-goods
stores. As they are charged with some material to make them stiff and
increase the weight, they must be washed before they are used. When they
have become too much charged with ink they may be boiled out in a
solution of potash or soda in water. The Swiss muslin costs about twelve
cents a yard, the cheese cloth about five.

I had a lot of rags specially sent to me from Paris, as I wished to see
the difference between the soft and the stiff muslin. The parcel
contained a collection of pieces of a sort of Swiss muslin, evidently
old curtains, and some pieces of old cotton shirting, some of which had
done duty at the Hôtel des Invalides, still bearing its stamp!

_Printing-ink and paper._ (See Notes 23 and 24.)

To _ink the plate_, place it on the plate-warmer and allow it to become
as hot as your hand can bear. Then take up the ink from the ink-slab
with the dabber and spread it all over the surface, moving the dabber
along with a rocking motion, but not striking the plate with it. Take
care that the lines are well filled. Sometimes, in the first inking of
the plate, it is necessary to use the finger to force the ink into the

In _wiping the plate_ the first operation is to remove all the
superfluous ink from the surface by means of a rag. What follows depends
on the kind of impression you desire to get. If you want a _natural_,
_clean_, or _dry_ proof, as these impressions are variously called (i.
e. an impression which shows only black lines on a perfectly clear white
ground), charge the palm of your hand with a _very little_ whiting or
Spanish white, and with it finish the wiping of the plate. This
operation will leave the surface of the plate perfectly clean and
bright, while the ink remains in the lines. If you desire to have an
even tint left all over the plate, avoid the use of the hand, and wipe
with the rag only. Plate-printers use their rags moist, but for printing
etchings a dry rag is preferable, as it leaves more of a tint on the
plate. Note, also, that the rag must be tolerably well charged with ink
to enable you to wipe a good tint with it.

The margin of the plate, even if a tint is left over it, must always be
wiped clean. This is best accomplished by a bit of cotton cloth charged
with whiting.

For the rest, nothing is left but to experiment according to the hints
given in the text by M. Lalanne.

[23] (p. 59.) If you can, buy your ink of a plate-printer or of a
lithographer. That used by book-printers will _not_ do! The trouble is
that the ink used by ordinary plate-printers is of a disagreeably cold
cast, as it is mixed with blue. Etchings ought to be printed with a warm
black, and sometimes, especially in the case of somewhat over-bitten
plates, with an ink of a decidedly brownish hue. Inks are made of
linseed-oil varnish (i. e. linseed oil that has been boiled down or
burned), and the blacks mentioned in the text. There are various
qualities of varnish according to its consistency, varying from thin
through medium to stiff. If you wish to mix your own ink, you must try
to procure the materials of some plate-printer or lithographer. For
varnish use the medium, for black the Francfort. The burnt Sienna (which
you can buy at any paint-shop) is used only to warm up the black. Lay
some of the dry color on your ink-slab, add a very little of the
varnish, and mix with the muller. Then add more varnish until the ink
forms a tolerably stiff paste. The grinding must be carefully done, so
as to avoid grittiness. Besides, if the color is not thoroughly well
incorporated with the varnish, the ink will not stand. To preserve the
ink for future use, put it into some vessel with a cover, and pour water
over it. The water standing on top of the ink keeps it soft. Otherwise
the varnish would harden.

[24] (p. 60.) The heavy Dutch hand-made papers are still preferred by
most people for etchings; but it is very difficult, if not impossible,
to procure them in this country. The paper known as Lalanne charcoal
paper, which is likewise a hand-made paper, can be bought at the
artist's material stores. Good drawing-paper will also answer. The
worst, because most inartistic, of all, is the plain white plate paper.
The paper used for the etchings in the AMERICAN ART REVIEW, first made
especially for this journal according to my suggestions, has excellent
printing qualities, although, being a machine-made, unglued paper, it
lacks some of the characteristics of the Dutch hand-made paper. But its
texture is very good, and it takes up the ink even _better_ than the
Dutch papers.

Japanese paper can be procured of the firms named on page xiii.

Dry paper will not take a decent impression, and the sheets to be used
for printing must therefore be moistened. To prepare the ordinary paper,
take three or four sheets at a time, and pass them slowly through clean
water contained in a pail or other vessel. Wet as many sheets as you may
need, lay them on top of one another, place the pile between two boards,
and allow them to lie thus under tolerably heavy pressure for at least
twelve, or, better still, for twenty-four hours. The paper will then be
ready for use.

To prepare Japanese paper, lay each sheet between two wet sheets of
ordinary paper, and let it lie as before.

[25] (p. 60.) _Épreuves de remarque._ The _remarque_ usually consists in
leaving unfinished some little detail in an out-of-the-way corner of the
plate. After the _épreuves de remarque_ have been printed, this detail
is finished. A person who cannot tell a good impression from a bad one,
or does not know whether a plate is spoiled or still in good condition,
without some such extraneous sign, has slight claim to be considered a

[26] (p. 62.) New York is, for the present, I believe, the only place
where steel-facing is done in America. I can recommend Mr. F. A.
Ringler, 21 and 23 Barclay Street, New York.

[27] (p. 62.) Zinc plates _can_ be steel-faced, but the facing cannot be
renewed, as it cannot be removed. The zinc plate on which Mr. Lansil's
little etching, given in this volume, is executed, was steel-faced. It
is feasible also, the electrotypers tell me, to deposit a thin coating
of copper on the zinc first, and then to superimpose a coating of steel.
In that case the steel-facing can be renewed as long as the
copper-facing under it remains intact.


  [E] This list is very far from being complete, especially in the last
  section, "Individual Artists." I have made a few additions, which have
  been marked by an asterisk. Those who desire to pursue the subject
  will find a very full bibliographical list in J. E. WESSELY'S
  _Anleitung zur Kenntniss und zum Sammeln der Werke des Kunstdruckes_,
  Leipzig, Weigel, 1876, p. 279 et seq.--_Translator._


_De la gravure en taille-douce, à l'eau-forte et au burin_, ensemble la
manière d'en imprimer les planches et d'en construire la presse, par
ABRAHAM BOSSE. Paris, 1645.

_Traité des manières de graver en taille-douce sur l'airain_ par le
moyen des eaux-fortes et des vernis durs et mols, par le s. ABRAHAM
BOSSE, augmenté de la nouvelle manière dont se sert M. LECLERC, graveur
du roi. Paris, 1701.

* _De la manière de graver à l'eau-forte_ et au burin, et de la
gravure en manière noir ... par ABRAHAM BOSSE. Nouvelle édition....
Paris, 1758. Small 8vo. Ill.

* _Die Kunst in Kupfer zu stechen_ sowohl mittelst des Aetzwassers als
mit dem Grabstichel ... durch ABRAHAM BOSSE.... Aus dem Französischen
ins Deutsche übersetzt. Dresden, 1765. Small 8vo. Ill.

_The Art of Graveing and Etching_, wherein is exprest the true Way of
Graveing in Copper; allso the Manner and Method of that famous Callot,
and M. Bosse, in their several Ways of Etching. Published by WILLIAM
FAITHORNE. London, 1662. 8vo. Ill.

_Idée de la gravure_, par M. DE M * * *. Without place or date. 12mo.
(This essay appeared originally in the "Mercure" for April, 1756, and
was afterwards printed separately. See, also, in the "Mercure" for 1755,
a notice, announcing the publication of a print by de Marcenay de Ghuy
after the elder Parrocel. This notice was also printed separately.)

_Idée de la gravure_ ... par M. DE MARCENAY DE GHUY. Paris, 1764. In-4
de 16 et 10 pag. (This is a second edition of the work last mentioned.)

* _Anleitung zur Aetzkunst_ ... nach eigenen praktischen Erfahrungen
herausgegeben von JOHANN HEINRICH MEYNIER. Hof, 1804. 8vo. Ill.

_Lectures on the Art of Engraving_, delivered at the Royal Institute of
Great Britain, by JOHN LANDSEER, Engraver to the King. London, 1807.

_Three Lectures on Engraving_, delivered at the Surrey Institution in
the Year 1809, by ROBERT MITCHELL MEADOWS. London, 1811. 8vo.

_Manuel du graveur_, ou Traité complet de la gravure en tous genres,
d'après les renseignements fournis par plusieurs artistes. Par A. M.
PERROT. Paris, 1830. In-18.

_Des mordants, des vernis et des planches dans l'art du graveur_, ou
Traité complet de la gravure. Par PIERRE DELESCHAMPS. Paris, 1836. In-8.

* _Vollständiges Handbuch der Gravirkunst_, enthaltend gründliche
Belehrungen über die Aetzwässer, die Aetzgründe, die Platten und die
Gravir-maschinen.... Von PET. DELESCHAMPS. Deutsch, mit Zusätzen, von
Dr. CHR. H. SCHMIDT. Quedlinburg und Leipzig, Basse, 1838. Ill.

_The Art of Engraving_, with the various Modes of Operation.... By T. H.
FIELDING. London, 1844. 8vo. Ill.

_Lettre de Martial_ sur les éléments de la gravure à l'eau-forte. Paris,
1864. (Etched on 4 fol. plates, illustrated.)

_Nouveau traité de la gravure à l'eau-forte_ à l'usage des peintres et
des dessinateurs, par A. P. MARTIAL. Paris, A. Cadart. 1873. Ill.

* _The Etcher's Handbook_: giving an Account of the Old Processes, and
of Processes recently discovered. By PHILIP GILBERT HAMERTON. London,
Roberson, 1871. Ill. (See also Mr. Hamerton's _Etching and Etchers_, 2d

* _Mr. Seymour Haden on Etching._ Lectures delivered at the Royal
Institution, reports of which were published in "The Magazine of Art,"
1879, and in the London "Building News," 1879.

* _The Etcher's Guide._ By THOMAS BISHOP. Philadelphia, Janentzky,
1879. Ill.

_Grammaire des Arts du Dessin_, par CHARLES BLANC. In this work (of
which there is also an English translation), there is a special chapter
on Etching.

_Charles Jacque._ Articles by him on Etching in the "Magasin

_Gravure._--Article extrait de l'Encyclopédie des arts et métiers.
In-fol, de 9 pag., fig.


* _Anleitung zur Kupferstichkunde._ VON ADAM VON BARTSCH. Wien, 1821.
2 vols. 8vo. Plates.

_Des types et des manières des maîtres graveurs_, pour servir à
l'histoire de la gravure en Italie, en Allemagne, dans les Pays-Bas et
en France, par JULES RENOUVIER. Montpellier, 1853-1856. 4 parties in-4.

_La gravure depuis son origine_, par HENRI DELABORDE. 1860. (These
articles appeared in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_ for Dec. 1 and 15,
1850, and Jan. 1, 1851.)

_Histoire de la gravure en France_, par GEORGES DUPLESSIS. Paris, 1861.
In-8. (This work was crowned by the French Institute [Académie des

_Etching and Etchers._ By PHILIP GILBERT HAMERTON. London, Macmillan,
1868. 4to. Ill.

* _Etching and Etchers._ By PHILIP GILBERT HAMERTON. (Second edition.)
1876. London, Macmillan. Boston, Roberts Bros.

* _The Origin and Antiquity of Engraving_.... By W. S. BAKER. Boston,
Osgood, 1875. 4to. (Second edition. Ill.)

_La Gravure à l'eau-forte_, essai historique par RAOUL DE
SAINT-ARROMAN.--_Comment je devins graveur à l'eau-forte_, par le comte
LEPIC. Paris, Cadart, 1876.

* _Anleitung zur Kenntniss und zum Sammeln der Werke des
Kunstdruckes_, von J. E. WESSELY. Leipzig, Weigel, 1876. 8vo.

* _About Etching._ Part I. Notes by Mr. SEYMOUR HADEN on a Collection
of Etchings by the Great Masters.... Part II. An Annotated Catalogue of
the Etchings exhibited. 148 New Bond Street (London), 1879. (Second
edition, which has some additions.)

* _About Etching._ By SEYMOUR HADEN. Illustrated with an original
etching by Mr. Haden, and fourteen facsimiles from his collection.
Imperial 4to. London, The Fine Art Society, 1879.



_Le peintre-graveur_, par ADAM BARTSCH. Vienne, 1803-1821. 21 vol. in-8
et un atlas in-4.

* _Le peintre-graveur._ Par J. D. PASSAVANT. Leipzig, 1860. 6 vols.
8vo. (Continuation of Bartsch's work.)

_Le peintre-graveur français_, ... par ROBERT DUMESNIL. Paris,
1835-1874. 11 vol. in-8.

_Le peintre-graveur français continué_, par PROSPER DE BEAUDICOUR.
Paris, 1859. 2 vol. in-8.

* _Le peintre-graveur hollandais et flamand._ Par J. P. VAN DER
KELLEN. Utrecht, 1866. 4to. (Continuation of Bartsch's work.)

* _Le peintre-graveur hollandais et belge du XIX^e siècle._ Par T.
HIPPERT et JOS. LINNIG. Bruxelles, 1874 (first vol.) et seq. 8vo.

* _Der deutsche Peintre-graveur._ Von A. ANDRESEN. Leipzig, 1864, et
seq. 5 vols. 8vo.

* _Die Malerradirer des 19. Jahrhunderts._ Von A. ANDRESEN. Leipzig,
1866-1870. 4 vols. 8vo.

* _Die Malerradirer des 19. Jahrhunderts._ Von J. E. WESSELY. Leipzig,
1874. 8vo. (Continuation of Andresen's work.)


_Beredeneerde catalogus_ van alle de prenten van NICOLAAS BERGHEM ...
beschreven door HENDRICK DE WINTER. Amsterdam, 1767.

_Catalogue de l'oeuvre d'Abraham Bosse_, par GEORGES DUPLESSIS. Paris,
1859. In-8. (From the "Revue Universelle des Arts.")

_Éloge historique de Callot_, par le P. HUSSON. Bruxelles, 1766. In-4.

_A Catalogue and Description_ of the whole of the Works of the
celebrated JACQUES CALLOT ... by J. H. GREEN (attributed to CLAUSSIN).
1804. 12mo.

_Éloge historique de Callot_, par M. DESMARETZ. Nancy, 1828. In-8.

_Recherches_ sur la vie et les ouvrages de J. CALLOT, par E. MEAUME.
Paris, 1860. 2 vol. in-8.

_OEuvre de Claude Gelée_, dit le Lorrain, par le comte GUILLAUME DE L.
(LEPPEL). Dresde, 1806. In-8, fig. (For the engraved works of Claude
Lorrain, see also the "Peintre-graveur" of M. Robert Dumesnil, vol. i.,
and the "Cabinet de l'Amateur et de l'Antiquaire," by Eugene Piot, vol.
ii. pp. 433-466.)

_Éloge historique de Claude Gelée_, dit le Lorrain, par J. P. VOIART.
Nancy, 1839. In-8.

_A Description_ of the Works of the ingenious Delineator and Engraver,
WENCESLAUS HOLLAR, disposed into Classes of different Sorts; with some
Account of his Life. By G. VERTUE. London, 1745. 4to, Portr.

_De la gravure à l'eau-forte et des eaux-fortes de Charles Jacque._ By
CHARLES BLANC. In the "Gazette des Beaux Arts," vol. ix. p. 193 et seq.

_Les Johannot_, par M. CH. LENORMANT. Paris (1858). In-8. (From
Michaud's "Biographie universelle.")

* _Essay on Méryon, and a Catalogue of his Works_, by FREDERIC
WEDMORE. London, Thibaudeau, 1879. (Announced as about to be published.)
See also _Méryon and Méryon's Paris_, by F. WEDMORE, in the "Nineteenth
Century," for May, 1878.

* _P. Burty's Catalogue of the Etchings of Méryon_, revised from the
Catalogue in the "Gazette des Beaux Arts," and translated by Mr. M. B.
HUISH, is announced to be published by the London Fine-Art Society.

_M^e. O'Connell, Meissonier, Millet, Méryon, Seymour Haden._ Articles
on these etchers by PHILIPPE BURTY in the "Gazette des Beaux Arts."

_Catalogue raisonné_ des estampes gravées à l'eau-forte par GUIDO RENI,
par ADAM BARTSCH. Vienne, 1795. In-8.

_Catalogue raisonné_ de toutes les estampes qui forment l'oeuvre de
_Rembrandt_, ... par ADAM BARTSCH. Vienne, 1797. 2 vol. in-8.

_A Descriptive Catalogue of the Prints of Rembrandt_, by an Amateur
(WILSON). London, 1836. In-8.

_Rembrandt and his Works_, ... by JOHN BURNET. London, 1859. 4to. Ill.

_Rembrandt._ Discours sur sa vie et son génie, avec un grand nombre de
documents historiques, par le Dr. P. SCHELTEMA, traduit par A. WILLEMS.
Revu et annoté par W. BURGER. Bruxelles, 1859. In-8. (From the "Revue
universelle des Arts.")

_L'OEuvre complet de Rembrandt_, remarquablement décrit et commenté
par CHARLES BLANC. Paris, 1859. 3 vol. in-8.

* _Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn._ Ses précurseurs et ses années
d'apprentissage. Par C. VOSMAER. La Haye, Nijhoff, 1863.

* _Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn._ Sa vie et ses oeuvres. Par C.
VOSMAER. La Haye, Nijhoff, 1868. (A second, revised edition appeared
some years ago.)

* _The Etched Works of Rembrandt._ A Monograph. By FRANCIS SEYMOUR
HADEN. With three plates and appendix. London, Macmillan, 1879. Medium

* _Descriptive Catalogue_ of the Etched Works of _Rembrandt van Rhyn_.
With Life and Introduction. By C. H. MIDDLETON. Royal 8vo. London, 1879.

_Pictorial Notices_; consisting of a Memoir of _Sir Anthony van Dyck_,
with a Descriptive Catalogue of the Etchings executed by him.... By
WILLIAM HOOKHAM CARPENTER. London, 1844. 4to. Portrait.

* _The Works of the American Etchers._ In the "American Art Review."


Obvious typos and inconsistencies corrected/standardised:
  Bruxelle to Bruxelles,
  Nitrid Acid to Nitric Acid,
  i.e. to i. e.,
  Société des aqua-fortistes to Société des Aqua-fortistes (as
  elsewhere in text),
  Epreuves to Épreuves (as elsewhere in text),
  cardboard to card-board,
  overbitten and over bitten to over-bitten,
  travelling board to travelling-board (as elsewhere in text).

Other inconsistencies generally left as in original:
  Zinc/zinc v Zink/zink,
  facsimile v fac-simile,
  nowadays v now-a-days,
  India-rubber v india-rubber,
  Rembrandt van Rhyn v Rembrandt van Rijn.

The oe-ligature (as in oeuvre) is represented as oe. Passages in italics
are surrounded by _underscores_. Likewise passages in bold are indicated
by =bold=. The carat character ^ is used to indicate superscripts (as in
Fig. 1^a).

Table of Contents: expanded (compared to original book) by including all
sections in the List of Works. Note that the section headed My Dear M.
Lalanne in the text is called Letter by M. Charles Leblanc in the Table
of Contents.

Plate IX and page xxiv: the writing on the plate is not very clear, but
the building is actually called the Waag, this has been used in the

Footnotes (A, B, ...) moved to end of paragraph, endnotes (notes from
the translator, 1, 2, ...) left together in separate chapter, as in

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