Henri Lefort des Ylouses
French (1846-1912) Saint Christopher
Etching and embossing
image size: 197mm x 135mm
Museum Purchase: The Letha Churchill Walker Memorial Art Fund, 1994.0052 View full recordWhat to Look for:
There are many ways to print high relief passages. Most of these techniques are complex, but they all rely on a printing matrix that is in high relief and will emboss the paper under printing pressure. A technique explored at the end of the 19th-century made use of carved plaster that is cast to form relief blocks (gypsography). Lefort des Ylouses' Saint Christopher seems simply to be a combination of a very heavily etched central image and a gypsograph border. The center is inked with a brown ink while the border has been very lightly inked with a black ink, allowing the essentially inkless lines and textures to create richly embossed areas. Click on the large leaves at the bottom of the border to get a sense of the complexity of this embossing.
The central image is so heavily etched that is worth noting as well. Look, for example, at Christopher's forearm at the left to see how the etched lines stand out in high relief like cables lying on a surface. In this same area you may also notice that the artist has used a subtle texture (sandpaper pressed into the etching ground?) in the backgound. Note also the lines that make up the ripples of water around Christopher's legs. These lines are in the etched image and indeed some ink has started to fill them, but they are etched as deeply as the marks in the border so that they print primarily as relief passages. It is conceivable that this image was etched from one heavily worked plate, but two plates, one for the image and for the embossed border, is more probable.