Bound album, p.53

Head of a Bearded Man, Leaning Back, 1768

Jean-Baptiste Le Prince

Etching and aquatint in brown ink

Gift of Herschel V. Jones, by exchange P.85.35.96

Not on View

This album of prints, comprising 137 etchings and aquatints by Jean-Baptiste Le Prince looks just like an album of drawings. Le Prince’s aquatint technique was unrivaled in his day. To mimic wash drawing so convincingly, he used a very fine aquatint dust grain and found a unique way of applying it to the copper plate to maximize his range of tone. After etching the composition, he applied a second ground to the copper plate. Then as though applying wash, he brushed on a special solvent—made of olive oil, turpentine, and lampblack ink—to the areas he wanted tone, exposing those passages of the plate. Next he would apply a sugar solution to the bare areas. When he applied the powdered resin and heated the plate, the resin would fuse to the sugared areas, creating a porous surface.

Image: Public Domain. Gift of Herschel V. Jones, by exchange

Prints of Darkness: The Art of Aquatint

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