Francesco Bartolozzi, Italian (1727 - 1815)

The most renowned student of Joseph Wagner in Venice, Francesco Bartolozzi began his career engraving plates after the designs of Italian masters. In 1764, he was invited to come to England in order to engrave the Guercino drawings in the Royal collection. A new printmaking process had recently been developed in London at this time and although, Francesco Bartolozzi could not claim its invention, his name is forever linked with the 'Stipple' engraving. Briefly, a stipple engraving is created by employing a multitude of flicks or dots rather than the lines used in etching or engraving. The higher the density of dots in an area the darker the plate will print and therefore, the stipple is a tonal as opposed to a linear method, producing light and dark contrasts.

Francesco Bartolozzi quickly recognized that this very demanding method of original printmaking was best suited for decorative works and portraits and scenes displaying flesh tones. He thus set up his famous London workshop which published renderings of either sentimental or mythological subjects, with such well known painters as Francis Wheatly, Angelica Kauffmann, Cipriani and Diana Beauclerk specifically creating designs for him to engrave.

Francesco Bartolozzi's success with the stipple was enormous. He was one of the first engravers granted a full membership to the Royal Academy, and in the last decades of the eighteenth century, a large following of English and transplanted Italian students sat in his studio to learn his techniques. (Some of his students later engraved the popular Cries of London series.) Stippling, however, was destined to live a very short life. It was extremely labourous and time consuming and soon gave way to the more convenient and mass produced forms of printmaking in the nineteenth century.

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