National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

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Drypoint Engravings

The Housebook Master's ability to communicate a range of human emotions was very unusual for this period, as was his obvious delight in the humorous aspects of life. The drypoint prints in the exhibition illustrate the vitality and naturalism of the master's style.

He was the first artist to use drypoint extensively. This technique suited his spontaneous, expressive style, since shallow drypoint lines are drawn directly on a metal plate with a needle. A "burr" of metal slivers rises to each side of the furrow cut by the needle, making a soft, fuzzy line when the plate is inked and printed on paper. Engraving and woodcutting were slower, more painstaking techniques and further removed from the immediate act of drawing. The main disadvantage of drypoint is that very few impressions of each print can be made before the burr and lines wear down. Most of the master's drypoints have survived in only one impression.

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