Johann Wilhelm Schirmer
German (1807-1863) Aus dem Park Chigi, not dated
Image size: 189 mm x 266 mm.
Museum Purchase: Elmer F. Pierson Fund, 1996.0050 View full recordWhat to Look for:
Lines are etched by drawing with a sharp tool, generally an etching needle, on a plate covered with a thin layer of acid-resistant ground. The marks made by the etching needle can convey delicate motions made by the finger tips, unlike engraving, which requires considerable force to move the burin through the metal plate and tends to be drawn from the motions of the arm more than with the fingers. Also unlike engraved lines, etched lines tend to have a uniform thickness. If part of the etched plate is covered with an acid-resistant ground and re-bitten in the acid then lines of different widths can be created, but these do not typically swell gradually from narrow to thick as in engraving. The exception is when an artist uses a special etching tool that, when twisted in the fingers, moves from thin to thick (somewhat like a calligraphy pen), as in many of Jacques Callot's etchings. Schirmer, however, uses pure line etching done with an etching needle. In the details note the uniform thickness of the lines and look for the little wiggles and bumps that indicate the finest motions of the artist's fingertips, perhaps even the trembling of his hand. You will also notice that the foliage has been drawn with extensive passages of loops and squiggles almost like handwriting. This kind of autographic and spontaneous mark is much more readily accomplished in etching than in engraving.