Methods of intaglio printing: Engraving versus etching

Intaglio printing is the opposite of relief printing. This term encompasses a variety of print-making methods in which an image is created as incised sunken lines on a printing plate, rather than as raised ones. Studying the art of printmaking, it is necessary to grasp the difference between engraving and etching, two techniques of intaglio printing. While deceptively alike to the untrained eye, both in name and look, these two methods developed from different processes, were mastered by differing artists, and create dissimilar effects on the finished print.

Marcantonio Raimondi, after Rapael, The Judgement of Paris, (1510-20), engraving.
Marcantonio Raimondi, after Rapael, The Judgement of Paris, (1510-20), engraving.

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Searching for ‘reality’ in art online

Alone on the stage, the ghost light shines to the empty auditorium. The ghost light is a feature of the theatre, rooted, like so much tradition, in lore and superstition. ‘Some say the ghost light is used to scare away ghosts, but more often the light is used to appease ghosts,’ writes the Melbourne Theatre Company. ‘During the COVID-19 pandemic, theatres around the world have placed ghost lights on their empty stages. For now, these shining beacons symbolise the art form’s survival.’

The ghost light, Melbourne Theatre Company.
The ghost light, Melbourne Theatre Company.

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Castle drawings by Charles Henry Ashdown

Castles, those formidable stone monoliths that dotted the countryside serving as homes and fortresses, form one of the most enduring images of the Middle Ages in Western Europe. While many now lie in varying states of ruin, few symbols of the medieval period capture the imagination of the modern person to such an extent. One envisions how they must have looked in the midst of their glory days, some eight hundred years ago.

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Imagining a sublime hell: John Martin and Paradise Lost

I first encountered Romantic artist John Martin’s Satan viewing the ascent to Heaven in 2018, as part of the Dark Imaginings exhibition at the Noel Shaw Gallery in the Baillieu Library. It is just bigger than the size of an A4 sheet of paper in black and white, with the fine clarity afforded mezzotint prints, and shows the tiny winged Satan crouched on a cloud, a near vertical staircase behind him dotted with angels and awash in heavenly glow. The image, although small and monochromatic, is entirely, endlessly, captivating.

John Martin, Satan viewing the ascent to Heaven from series Paradise Lost, 1825, mezzotint.
John Martin, Satan viewing the ascent to Heaven from series Paradise Lost, 1825, mezzotint.

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Wind-ups during lockdown

As pandemic lockdowns drag on, cabin fever may also set in as families spend extended time together in confined spaces. A 17th century engraving by Jacques de Gheyn II (c.1565-1629) humorously captures the kind of domestic tensions that may be experienced right now in households across the globe. The print leverages off the comic trope in art of the hen-pecked husband, and in case you did not get the joke, a scolding hen has been included in the center of the scene.

Jacques de Gheyn II, A woman quarrelling with her husband, (17th century), engraving.
Jacques de Gheyn II, A woman quarrelling with her husband, (17th century), engraving.

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