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(mĕt`sətĭnt, mĕd`zə–, mĕz`ə–) [Ital.,=halftint], method of copper or steel engraving in tone. A Dutch officer, Ludwig von Siegen, is given credit for the invention of mezzotint c.1640. The process then came into prominence in England early in the 18th cent. Mezzotint involves uniform burring with a curved, sawtoothed tool by cradling it back and forth until the surface of the plate presents an all-over, even grain. This yields a soft effect in the print. The picture is developed in chiaroscuro with a scraper and a burnisher, every degree of light and shade from black to white being attainable. In pure mezzotint, no line drawing is employed, the result being soft without the sharp lines of an etching. Mezzotint was often used for the reproduction of paintings, particularly, in England, for landscapes and portraits. The process is essentially extinct today.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a method of engraving on metal related to intaglio. In preparing the copper plate for mezzotint engraving, a burr is raised on its polished surface either mechanically or chemically. Such a rough plate will print an even black. The design is made on the plate (sometimes painted) with a needle or pencil; the areas intended to be light are smoothed or scraped, creating soft gradations from dark to light. Mezzotint engravings are distinguished by deep and velvety tonal qualities and the richness and subtlety of chiaroscuro effects. The mezzotint process is also used for color prints.

Mezzotint was invented by the German master L. Von Siegan in the mid-17th century. It was popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries, particularly in England (J. R. Smith, V. Green, R. Earlom, J. Ward, and J. Walker). It was also widely used in France (J. C. Le Blon), Russia (I. Shtenglin, I. A. Selivanov), and other countries. Mezzotint was used primarily for the reproduction of paintings.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(graphic arts)
An engraving process in which a copper or steel plate is first entirely roughened by rubbing Carborundum between it and another plate and by using a steel chisel with an edge set with minute teeth which rock into the plate at various angles; the rough-grain plate is burnished with a steel instrument to produce appropriate white areas of the design.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Sent off the 7-2 favourite three days later, it all unravelled late on as Mezzotint encountered a pretty rough journey deep inside the final furlong.
Blessington impressed over course and distance last time, so he's in, but Mezzotint isn't as he was only mid-division in this a year ago.
"Early Mezzotint Publishing in England II: Peter Lely, Tompson and Browne." Print Quarterly 7:2 (1990): 130-145.
With the window now shut, the creature is about to slip through another frame, that of the mezzotint itself.
Prior to the founding of art schools in the United States (North America's first art school and museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, was established in 1805, a decade prior to the Library of Congress), artists learned through private tutoring but were largely self-taught through the study of imported mezzotint engravings, journals, and books.
The black and white plates were produced using either an engraved or mezzotint process to bring out the fine detail of the spider's anatomy, despite lithography being the preferred practice for scientific works at that time.
These volumes contain finely detailed mezzotint plates, which describe and illustrate the visit of the first British envoy to China.
The original painting is lost, but, true to form, Hancock engraved a mezzotint based on it, of which a unique proof copy survives in the British Museum.
McCreery also describes how a specific type of satirical print (mezzotint, droll, stipple) and the way that it was issued (whether part of a periodical or a single sheet) appealed to a variety of consumers.
In "The Mezzotint," one of the most widely anthologized and frequently imitated ghost stories in the English language, James again references the gentlemanly sport of golf in a meaningful and symbolic way, thus providing an extra bit of layering to this "characteristically urbane and learned" narrative of an antique picture that will not stop changing, will not stop terrifying any and all who dare to look upon it (Cox 142).
* NEW YORK Master mezzotint artist, Mikio Watanabe, is shown at a recent opening at the Multiple Impressions gallery.