The etching is to use acid to burn.

The etching is a technique of engraving where the image is carved on a metal plate with a chemical solution. In this technique, the plate is covered with a varnish, and the artist draws his motive to the metal tip. Then it is placed in an acid bath which “bites” in the open areas.

After cleaning of the varnish, the plate is inked and press.

Engraving strong water, principle
The principle of the strong water consists in attacking the metallic place with the aid of an acid, on the zones where the varnish was removed by etching.

Initially, the strong water was the name given to the nitric acid. Nowadays, it is replaced by less toxic mordants, such the perchlorure of iron. This technique of “intaglio“, is known as the ‘ indirect engraving”, as opposed to the”direct engraving” that is done with tools.

The name etching, commonly refers the process, the engraved metal plate and the print obtained by this engraving.

The different processes

The different processes of strong water, include:

  • aquatint,
  • the engraving in the wash,
  • the pencil mode.

The differences between these processes are essentially the tools or varnish used.

Matrix strong water acid passage
The plate coated with a varnish was etched, placed in an acid bath …

The favorite technique of Rembrandt for burning

The etched work of Rembrandt has 290 plates which 81 only survive. The etching was his favorite technique. However, he could on a same engraving also use the burin and line-engraving to make a more subtle chiaroscuro.

Comparison Weisbuch / Rembrandt
Comparison of 2 portraits : on the left, “L’étonné” of Rembrandt in 1630, and on the right “L’étonné” of Weisbuch in 1973.

Great admirer of Rembrandt, Weisbuch also used this combination of techniques.

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