At a glance

Bowes Art & Architecture Library

Intaglio: The Art of Incision

Intaglio is a term used in printmaking to describe a method in which ink is held in incised grooves on a metal (usually copper or zinc) plate. When the plate is run through a press, the ink in the grooves is transferred to paper. Because these grooves can be created at different depths, the printed lines can vary in thickness and intensity. Printing an intaglio plate requires two conditions: a rolling press that can apply great pressure, and damp, pliable paper that can reach into the grooves when that pressure is applied. While the process of printing intaglio is always essentially the same, there are numerous methods for creating a plate.

This exhibition uses examples from the Art & Architecture Library’s Locked Stacks Collection to illustrate some of these intaglio techniques. The books range in age from five to 400 years and in size from octavo to double folio—details that themselves demonstrate the vast range of this enduring printmaking form.

Methods of intaglio

Exhibition checklist

Curated by Anna Fishaut