dutch engravers

Opstanding van Christus = Resurrection of Christ
Jan Punt (Dutch; 1711–1779), engraver, after the drawing by Jacob de Wit (Dutch; 1695–1754) | after the painting by Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish; 1577–1640)
Etching and engraving
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

From: De plafonds, of gallerystukken uit de kerk der eerw. P. P. Jesuiten te Antwerpen(Amsterdam, 1751– )



I’ve you’ve been online here and there and interested in printmaking, you’ve probably seen this 1950 video of Hayter printing in his Atelier 17.

If not: get your carpet covered roller out, make sure your ink is nice and drippy. No gloves or ventilation, and always time for a cigarette. It may take 5 years to master handwiping, engrave your plate like a banking plane, magically get clean hands when pulling those felts nice and taut, there’s always time for another cigarette.

It reminds me a lot of the first shop I learned in, under the well meaning tutelage of Dietmar Hagedorn, whose printshop life was formed and shaped by a line of men like Hayter, nicotine-stained fingers pitch black with ink, a flask of strong liquor in one of the pockets of the coat, true love and passion for the way of the printshop, where things were simple, clear, black and white - the one true way to wipe a plate, the one true way to sharpen a tool, etch, etc.

I fit ill into this world, and yet - the prints were good, and thus one belongs, the unspoken circle, a nod over a shoulder, this kid sure can wipe a drypoint, or whatever.

More than a decade later, I run my own shop (or, to not lie: currently I don’t, the shop is packed up, disassembled, in the midst of restauration, I pace around the rusty presses often, hundreds of boxes still to be sifted through), and what a different world it is: There is patina, surely, but there’s also clean, smooth functionality, nitrile gloves are on the house, great ventilation, emergency acid showers, eye-wash and timers on coffee machine and boiler, no smoking indoors and no one true way. Volatile solvents are banned from the shop, rapeseed oil washout.

Preferences in the way things are done, a lot less struggle. Don’t think I ever saw a student wrestle with an image, less questing, less searching, more “i want it like this how can i do it?”. When I entered printshops for the first time I fell in love with inks, the stink of turpentine, asphaltum, beeswax in the hardground, acids and alchemy. My new shop smelled neat, head and lungs loved it. But can one fall in love, the proper passionate love required for traversing the fledgling years of printmaking, without that infernal alchemy? Frantically I filled the shop with plants, Kozo sprouting everywhere, appealing to other passions, hopefully, perhaps.

(Not saying one is better than the other, just observing.)

I think I’m tired. Tired of the old men and their stories and their fear for the survival of a printmaking world they enshrined themselves in, arbiters for good and bad printing. Tired of the new kids (guess I no longer am one of them?) and their, but then again, my students might be reading this..
The info is all out there, books and videos and dvds in the back of books, and I miss Dietmar and his filterless Gauloises in the shirt’s breast pocket, next to the thread counter I inherited as a parting gift.

I’m thinking about the next shop, the new shop, how should it be? Not talking floor plans, thinking soul, thinking alchemy.

So so tired.

Romeyn de Hooghe - Nova totius terrarium orbis

between circa 1675 and circa 1710


Amsterdams Historisch Museum

Cornelis Bloemaert (Dutch; 1603–1692) after Abraham van Diepenbeeck (Flemish; 1596–1675)
ca. 1635–38
Etching and engraving
In: Michel de Marolles’s Tableaux du temple des muses (Paris, 1655)
British Museum, London | © Trustees of the British Museum

Magdalena van de Passe, engraver (printmaker)
Dutch, ca. 1600-1638
After Maarten de Vos
Flemish, 1532-1603
The Pyramids of Egypt from the Seven Wonders of the World, The Seven Wonders of the World, 1614
Engraving on paper/RISD Museum

Crispijn de Passe I, engraver (printmaker)
Dutch; Flemish, ca. 1565-1637
After Maarten de Vos
Flemish, 1532-1603
The Gardens of Babylon from the Seven Wonders of the World, The Seven Wonders of the World, 1614
Engraving on paper/RISD Museum