King's College London
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From woodcut to photograph: techniques of book illustration

Stipple

Stipple engraved portrait of a British naval officerStipple engraved frontispiece portrait of Edward HawkeThe Florentine engraver Francesco Bartolozzi (1728-1815) was master of the technique known as stipple engraving which became popular in England towards the end of the 18th century. During the early 1760s Bartolozzi worked in Rome for the famous etcher Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78) and was recognised as the best engraver in Italy.

Richard Dalton, the art dealer and librarian to George III, soon invited Bartolozzi to London where he worked for the next three and a half decades and cut numerous engravings for the king. Bartolozzi was the only engraver to become a founder member of the Royal Academy of Arts; engravers were considered as mere craftsmen at the time but an exception was made for him.

Stipple engraving was practised primarily in England from the 1770s to 1810 and produced a distinct dotted effect. The design was etched on the plate using a punch-like metal tool known as a mace-head or mattoir. A stipple tool was then used to nick in the finer details with dots and small flicks. The result is an effect similar to that of shading in pencil, which particularly suited modelling of the face.

This portrait of the naval officer Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke (1705-81), was engraved by Bartolozzi (or by one of the numerous pupils in his studio) after a painting by the English portrait painter Francis Cotes (1726-70).

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