French Rococo Etched Proofs

In France, the academic stronghold of classical art theory in the eighteenth century, prints gained wider acceptance as objects suitable for domestic display. By this time prints were regularly made to reproduce paintings. The resulting subordination of the print put a premium on capturing the pictorial values of a painting and set the question of finish on a different plane. The exclusive use of etching for the first stage in making these reproductive prints reflects an appreciation for the particular delicacy and virtuosity afforded by the technique. Once the initial design was complete the plate was then typically reworked with an engraving tool to enrich the detail and shading. The overriding importance of the preliminary etched work is apparent from the fact that the artists enlisted at this crucial phase were chosen for their facility. The association of etching with freedom of draftsmanship had long been acknowledged in writings on prints. Consequently, the etched proofs were regularly printed in significant number and apparently disseminated and collected by discriminating connoisseurs. In the following century the taste for etched-only proofs reached a highpoint.


The Unfinished Print-Introduction Etchings as Drawings Rembrandt French Rococo Etched Proofs Piranesi and the Invented Fragment 19th Century Paris Modernity Glossary Image Index
Rembrandt Piranesi and the Invented Fragment

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