Most likely derived from the decoration of metal armor in Northern Europe during the 15th century, etching and engraving are the two major intaglio printmaking techniques. Though they produce visually similar results, etching involves incising a wax-coated metal plate with a sharp tool and placing the plate into an acid bath. The acid corrodes the exposed lines, leaving the waxy ground unaffected; the plate is then inked and printed, forcing the paper into the incised lines. Considered one of the great masters of the technique, Rembrandt van Rijn harnessed the medium’s similarity to drawing with a pencil or pen. Engraving, the oldest intaglio technique and the most common method seen in Old Master prints, involves directly incising a metal matrix and then printing. Engraving arguably reached its pinnacle with Albrecht Dürer, who mastered the technique's precise and tapered lines to achieve great tonality as seen in this print.

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