Tag: engraving

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A Collector of Secrets. Sir Balthazar Gerbier (1592-1663) in cultural diplomacy and the arts

Engraved portrait of Sir Balthazar Gerbier, engraving by J. Meijssens after Antony van Dyck (1599 - 1641);
17th century. Museum no. E.1298-1888 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

  The Middleburg-born Huguenot Balthazar Gerbier (1592-1663) excelled with a vast career spanning from the various arts, the world of diplomacy to that of a courtier and spy. Many scholars have explored various aspects of Balthazar Gerbier’s roles as an artist, collector, scribe, cryptographer, agent, colonist, pamphleteer or architect. Few, however, have brought these activities […]

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Born on This Day: Queen Christina of Sweden


This post will be taking a look at Christina, Queen of Sweden from 1633 to 1654, who was born today in 1626 (O.S. 8th December). The daughter of Gustav II Adolph (Gustav Adolphus of Sweden) and Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg; following her father’s death at the Battle of Lützen in 1632, Christina took the Swedish throne […]

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Who Was Wheatcroft?

Detail of a sinking ship from E.32-1949

Whilst cataloguing, I often reflect on the many engravers whose work is now in our store, either anonymous, or signed only with cryptic initials or widespread surnames, and are fated to remain unknown. Only their work remains to silently attest to the skills of these unknown craftsmen and women. I may wish that A.R. (E.126-1941) […]

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St. Gerard Sagredo


Martyrs have been martyred in some awfully creative ways. Last time around we learnt how St. Eustace met a sticky end, roasted alive inside a brazen bull. St. Fausta was sawn in half inside a box, St. Bartholomew was skinned alive and St. Alphege was pelted with cow skulls. Truly, these are horrible ways to […]

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Women and the production of ornament prints

Most often when we read about the history of it records the achievements of male artists. However from early on there have also been women artists. In Book XXXV of his Natural History Pliny the Elder (AD 25-AD 79) describes a number of women artists including Timarete of Athens (5th century BC) and Iaia or […]

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Cutting, colouring and inscribing: Part 3: inscriptions on ornament prints

Some prints in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum have been embellished by their early owners through the addition of inscriptions in pen and ink. This last part of ‘Cutting, colouring and inscribing’ looks at different examples of writing on some of these prints. These give an insight into the past lives of […]

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Cutting, colouring and inscribing Part 2: Colouring in

In the second part of three blogs looking at past intervention to ornament engravings this entry considers enlivening prints through the application of colour. Prints are commonly a monotone medium. From the early days of printing there has been an interest in producing coloured images. One way this is achieved is through colouring a black […]

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Cutting, colouring and inscribing Part 1: extracting ornament: cutting out designs from ornament prints

Produced as designs for the decorative arts, from early on ornament prints also appealed to collectors. In some cases these prints, intended to inspire designs from artists and craftsmen, appear to have inspired their past owners to embellish or change their form. The next three blog posts will investigate some embellishments made by previous owners […]

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Blackwork prints: Part 3: the demise of the blackwork ornament print

As discussed in the previous blog entry by the seventeenth century printmakers were displaying their technical mastery through combining engraving and blackwork in their plates. This was soon followed in the second decade of the seventeenth century with new developments to create tonal modelling and a more feathery style. Figure 1 Esaias van Hulsen Plate […]

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Blackwork Prints: Part 2: Technical mastery and enlivening blackwork ornament prints

The technique of blackwork engraving, using goldsmith’s tools to gouge out large channels for ink was developed for jewellery designs at the end of the sixteenth century. Part two of this series of three blog entries will look at the highly skilled developments in this technique at the turn of the seventeenth century.

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