Biting | The term to describe acid eating away the lines in metal plate that have been made by the etching needle.
Carta azzurra | Handmade blue paper. Blue paper is comprised of blue, neutral, and/or other rag fibres, to which a colourant like indigo or woad is added to homogenise the colour. Over time, the paper may become discoloured due to factors including exposure or storage conditions, and may appear to be yellow, brown, or green, rather than blue.
Carta di straccia | Rag paper.
Chain line | Impression in paper made by the perpendicular chain wires of the paper mould.
Charcoal | A drawing material formed when slowly burning twigs are heated at a high temperature in tightly closed containers without oxygen, carbonising the sticks.
Chiaroscuro | Contrast of light and shade.
Colorito | Venetian writers on art including Lodovico Dolce (1508–1568) and Paolo Pino (fl. 1534–1565) used this term, rather than colore (colour), referring to the active manner in which artists employ colour.
Coucher | From the French coucher, meaning to lay down. A papermaker referred to as the coucher removes the sheet of paper from the mould and lays it onto the felt.
Deckle | The wooden frame that surrounds the papermaking mould.
Disegno | Drawing or design, referring not only to the physical manifestation of the drawing, but also the conceptual, envisaged composition.
Drypoint | Intaglio printing process in which a sharp stylus, or needle, is used to scratch lines directly into the metal plate without an acid-resistant ground. The metal scrapings that are left on either side of the incised line, known as burr, hold ink, producing a hazy, atmospheric effect. Over time, the burr breaks down. Therefore, a comparatively small number of impressions can be taken from the plate.
Engraving | Intaglio printing process in which a burin, or steel tool with a round wooden handle and beveled tip, is used to incise lines onto a metal plate. These lines hold the ink which are impressed onto the sheet of paper.
Etching | Intaglio printing process using a plate of copper or iron covered with an acid-resistant ground into which the design is etched with an etching needle. Once the design is complete, the plate is dipped into acid, which eats away the areas exposed by the needle. These lines hold the ink which are impressed onto the sheet of paper.
Gouache | Opaque watercolour in which pigments are ground and mixed with water, and bound with a substance such as gum arabic.
Intaglio | A method of printing in which lines are incised onto a metal plate, deriving from the Italian word intagliare, meaning to cut.
Invenzione | Invention, concept, or idea, in this sense, pertaining to a work of art.
Letterpress | Relief printing process through which inked, raised surfaces of text are impressed onto sheets of paper.
Modello | A somewhat preparatory drawing that prefigures a painted composition, often smaller in scale than the smaller in scale than the final composition.
Mould | The metal frame made of laid and chain wires, surrounded by the wooden deckle, and used for the purpose of papermaking.
Natural Black Chalk | Soft carbonaceous schist mined from the earth.
Natural Red Chalk | Red-ochre hematite mined from the earth.
Paragone | Comparison on debate, in this sense, referring to the sixteenth-century discourse surrounding the concepts of disegno and colorito.
Pastelli | Fabricated coloured chalks made by mixing pigment with a binding agent.
Platemark | The indentation in the paper made by the metal plate in the process of intaglio printmaking.
Prepared paper | Paper brushed with a coloured wash.
Relief printing | A process by which material is cut away, producing lines above the surface that are then inked and transferred to paper.
Retting | Process of rag fermentation that breaks down the rags, leaving only the fibre. This process is required for paper production with a stamper beater.
Sfumato | The hazy effect in a work of art produced by a subtle transition between tones.
Sizing | A glaze or coating that prevents ink and other materials from being absorbed into the paper.
Stamper beater | A device with wooden mallets that rise and fall on a mill shaft, beating the retted rags into a pulp.
State | Changes made to the printing plate after each print run.
Stumping | The use of a stump, or paper rolled into a stick and shaved to a point at both ends, which artists use to blend charcoal or chalk.
Terraferma | Mainland territories of the Republic of Venice.
Trois crayons | The combination of three colours of chalk in one composition, typically black, red, and white.
Wash | Ink or watercolour with a solvent binding.
Watermark | Wire pattern on the mould that can sometimes be used to inform the date and place of origin of the paper.
White heightening | The white highlights in drawings, created from white chalk, lead pigment, and/or bodycolour.
Woodcut | Relief printing process by which designs are carved into a wooden block, as in the case of St Nicolas of Myra.
— Glossary by Alexa McCarthy, June 2021
This glossary draws upon the following texts:
Barrett, Timothy. ‘Early European Papermaking Methods, 1400-1800’. The Paper Conservator 13 (1989), pp. 7-31.
Burns, Thea. ‘Making Space for the Materiality of Blue Paper’. Dans Claude Laroque (dir.) Histoire du papier et de la papeterie, Actualités de la recherche – II, Paris, site de l’HiCSA, mis en ligne en décembre 2020, pp. 70-84. https://hicsa.univ-paris1.fr/.
Donnithorne, Alan. Leonardo Da Vinci: A Closer Look. London: Royal Collection Trust, 2019.
Jenkins, Catherine, Nadine M. Orenstein, and Freyda Spira. The Renaissance of Etching. Exhibition Catalogue. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New Haven, London, and New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, distributed by Yale University Press, 2019.
Shelley, Marjorie, Ashley Dunn, and Constance McPhee. ‘How is a Drawing Made?’. The Materials and Techniques of Drawings and Prints. Department of Drawings and Prints, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Spira, Freyda, Liz Zanis, and Rachel Mustalish. ‘What is Printmaking?’. The Materials and Techniques of Drawings and Prints. Department of Drawings and Prints, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Van Velzen, S.T.J. ‘The universe between felt and wire: A new look into the typology of Western paper’. PhD Dissertation. University of Amsterdam, 2018.
For additional references, see the Bibliography.