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Related: printmaking - woodcut - shunga - graphic

Plate from the
I Modi collection (1524)
Giulio Romano (drawing), Marcantonio Raimondi (engraving)


Engraving is the practice of incising a design onto a hard, flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorative object in itself, as when silver or gold are engraved, or may provide an intaglio plate, when copper is engraved, or a relief print block when wood is engraved. Engravers use a hardened steel tool called a burin to cut the design into the surface.

Before the advent of photography, engraving used to reproduce other forms of art, for example paintings. Engravings continued to be common in newspapers and many books into the early 20th century, as they were long cheaper to mass reproduce than photo images. Engraving has also always been used as a method of original artistic expression.

Because of the high level of microscopic detail that can be achieved by a master engraver, counterfeiting of engraved designs is well-nigh impossible, and modern banknotes are almost always engraved. Many classic postage stamps were engraved, although the practice is now mostly confined to particular countris, and/or used when a more "elegant" design is desired and a limited color gamut is acceptable.

An engraver is a person who engages in engraving. The engraver can execute an original engraving as an independent work of art invented by him/herself, or, as a reproductive engraver, divulgate an idea expressed in a painting, drawing, statue, etc. invented by an artist other than the engraver. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engraving [Jan 2005]

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