Intaglio is a family of printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface, known as the matrix or plate. Normally, copper or zinc plates are used as a surface, and the incisions are created by etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint or mezzotint. To print an intaglio plate, ink is applied to the surface and then rubbed with tarlatan cloth to remove most of the excess. The final smooth wipe leaves ink only in the incisions. A damp piece of paper is placed on top and the plate and paper are run through a printing press that, through pressure, transfers the ink from the recesses of the plate to the paper.

Intaglio techniques are often combined on a plate. For example Rembrandt's prints are referred to as "etchings" for convenience, but very often they have engraving and drypoint work as well, and sometimes no actual etching at all.

"Christ Presented to the People" (1655) Rembrandt

Related Terms: Etching, Engraving, Drypoint.

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