HISTORY. As stated in the article ENGRAVING, the custom of printing trial impressions of niello plates may have originated the art of engraving tor printing upon paper. This origin must have taken place in the course of the fifteenth cen tury, and the result of the newly invented proc ess is found in such early work as that of ]iaccio Baldini. His prints are, of course, rare, but they do nut need rarity to make them singu larly valuable, both historically and in the way of artistic merit. Contemporary with them are a great many snmll prints, known to collectors as niello or Mello prints, these being evidently made by rubbing with ink the coppers prepared for niello work and taking impressions on paper to show the des4m. From I 150 until the close of the century these works and those of ltobetta of Florence, those of Lombardy, and those of Martin Schongauer of Southeastern Germany. rep resent a great part of the artistic moven ent of the time. The earliest engravings, whether of Italian or German origin, show a very imperfect knowledge of the power of the burin and tl.e re sources of the bnrinist's art. The outline is drawn on the metal with singular grace and charm, this even to the most refined qualities of facial expression: but this outline is not supported by a complete system of light and shade. The burin is used for thin and light lines only. usually very short, hardly to be dis tinguished from the lines of the etcher; and where there is opportunity for elahorate line work, as in the drawing of flcming hair. the deli cate, nearly parallel lines by which the effect is produced are evidently a habit of the skilled en graver on metal for original decorative effect, without thought of printing. The work of Jacopo dei Barbari (the master of the Caduceus), an artist of whom little is known, is among the most poetical of the time, and Sandro Botticelli, in his designs for the illustration for Dante— designs thought to have been engraved by Ricci() Baldini—is supposed also to have engraved a few plates himself. In fact, the painter- of the time experimented with the burin very nearly as the painters of the second half of the nineteenth century worked with the etelling needle. trying to familiarize themselves with the new process and to express their thoughts in black and white in this enduring form. It is important to note that the early engravers had 110 thought of the comparative lowering of their art to a process of mere copying.
The sixteenth century is a time of amazing fertility and arti-tie results in line-engraving. Especially during the years previous to his ae:•,..
in 15:2S Albert Diirer produced designs of extraordinary originality and relined sent in His most famous pieces are the ' Melancholia" and the so-called "Night and Death:" but his "Adam and Eve" (one of his earliest works in black and white). the noble designs ealhil the "Coat of Arms with the Skull" and the of Arms with the Cock." and several of the por traits, are of equal artistic importance. (For de tails, see Di'itErt, Attila:elm) in the Lem Com tries Incas Van Leyden worked until 15:;:1. and his (lesion in black and as shown in prints, thomdi feeble compared wills the mag nificent strength of Duren is charming for its quaintness: and his portrait work has singular attractiveness because of its apparent fidelity to individual expression and to details of costume. Barthel Behan produced less work than his pre deeessor and probable teacher, Diirer, his life being short, but he is known as the maker of the finest burin engraving existing if technical quali ties are considered, and one equal to any similar artistic work of the kind, viz. portraiture, in loftier expressional qualities. This astonishing print is the portrait of the Emperor Charles V. in his youth, the plate being dated 1531. Marc antonio Raimondi (q.v.) has been the most re puted and admired of burin engravers, but this largely because of the traditional dependence of his :in upon the teachings of Raphael, and the fact that he reproduced many of Raphael's drawings, now lost—these reproductions being not necessarily close, though having much of the original signifiean•e. In a curious way Mare antonio links together the earliest and the later schools of line-engraving: for he has a refine ment of outline in no way supported by his system of light and shade, in which he resembles the earliest men, while his deliberate preference of a life of copying to the career of an original designer in black and white makes him in a way the founder of that unfortunate later school which looked upon line-engraving as a techni cality, to be used only for the rendering, usually inadequate, of important pictures. Agostino Carracci (q.v.) worked during the second half of the sixteenth century, producing original designs as well as collies, and in France the able work men Abraham Bosse and Israel Silvestre car ried the traditions of originality and native force far into the seventeenth century. Poetical inspiration was denied them, but they have left an admirable record of their time in designs of complete individuality.