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mezzotint(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.
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.
A. S. ZAITSEV