Large engravings

The burin is a steel cutting tool used to incise copper by applying pressure. Using the burin technique, Hendrick Goltzius, Aegidius Sadeler, Jan Muller and Jan Saenredam made spectacular engravings in a Mannerist style around the year 1600. Their works are astonishing not only because of their size, but also for the virtuosity of their technique, the design of their figures, and their composition.

The unique quality of Claude Mellan’s print of The Sudarium, or Veil of St. Veronica, in 1649, is mentioned in all the anthologies on the art of engraving. It is an image engraved in a single spiralline that begins at the tip of the nose. The use of the burin reached a new height of splendour in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the hands of the engravers of the French Academy. Countless French prints of the period demonstrate how demanding the academic training was in the practice of engraving. They also show surprising results in the way they reproduce faces and the textures of clothing and objects.