A method of printmaking where the parts of the image that will take the ink are engraved or etched into a metal plate - the opposite of relief. Ink is then applied and raised areas wiped clean, leaving the grooves filled with ink and the surface clean. Soft, dampened paper is laid over the plate, and both paper and plate are put through the rollers of an etching press. The pressure forces the paper into the grooves, so that it takes up the ink leaving an indented impression on the paper. Plates are engraved either by engraving and drypoint, in which the plate is cut into by hand, or by etching in which acid bites into the surface.

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Lord George Gordon, by James Tassie, 1781 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Lord George Gordon
by James Tassie
NPG 4603

Samuel Johnson, by Unknown artist, (19th century) - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Samuel Johnson
by Unknown artist
(19th century)
NPG D7040

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