Some Thoughts on the Development of Aquatint in 18th-Century Europe
Rena Hoisington, curator and head of the department of old master prints at the National Gallery of Art
Invented in the Netherlands in the 1650s, aquatint was not employed broadly by artists in Europe until the second half of the eighteenth century. The increasing use of this tonal intaglio printmaking technique at this time corresponds with a growing interest in studying, collecting, and multiplying drawings. By supplementing the line work of etching with a means to render tone in subtle ways, aquatint offered a new and exciting method to replicate ink and wash drawings, especially when these works were printed in brown ink. Early practitioners of the medium included Jean-Baptiste Le Prince in France, Paul Sandby in England, Giovanni David in Italy, and Francisco de Goya in Spain. This talk offers an overview on the beginnings of aquatint, the subject of a forthcoming exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
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