Printmaking technique that involves making incisions into a metal plate which retain the ink and form the printed image

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  • after Joseph Mallord William Turner, 'Snow-Storm, engraved by R. Brandard' published 1859-61

    after Joseph Mallord William Turner
    Snow-Storm, engraved by R. Brandard published 1859-61
    Engraving on paper
    Transferred from the British Museum 1988

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  • prints after William Hogarth, 'Dr Benjamin Hoadly, Bishop of Winchester, engraved by Thomas Cook' circa 1800

    prints after William Hogarth
    Dr Benjamin Hoadly, Bishop of Winchester, engraved by Thomas Cook circa 1800
    Engraving on paper
    image: 321 x 264 mm
    Transferred from the reference collection 1984

    View the main page for this artwork

  • after Edward Dayes, 'Kirkstall Abbey, engraved by Goldar' published 1803

    after Edward Dayes
    Kirkstall Abbey, engraved by Goldar published 1803
    Engraving on paper
    Transferred from the British Museum 1988

    View the main page for this artwork

The design is manually incised into an engraving plate using a burin, an engraving tool like a very fine chisel with a lozenge-shaped tip. The burin makes incisions into the metal at various angles and with varying pressure which dictates the quantity of ink the line can hold – hence variations in width and darkness when printed. The technique of engraving metal dates from classical antiquity as a method of decorating objects. However it was not until about 1430 in Germany that engraved plates began to be used for making prints. Photoengraving is a process using acid to etch a photographically produced image onto a metal plate that can then be printed from.

Like etching and aquatint, engraving is an intaglio technique. Intaglio refers to all printing and printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface, and the incised line or sunken area holds the ink.