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MFA Acc. #: 2001.144


An intaglio process that was invented in the middle of the 17th century. A metal plate is prepared using a rocker to cover the entire surface with an even, toothy texture to hold ink. A design is drawn by smoothing out the burr with a burnisher. The burnished areas will hold less ink and appear lighter, whereas the untouched sections will print very dark. Mezzotints are characterized by a velvety matte surface.

Synonyms and Related Terms

black manner; mezzotint (Ned., Sven.); zwarte kunstprent (Ned.); manière noire (Fr.); Schabkunst (Deut.); Mezzotinto (Deut.); mezzatinta (It.); media tinta (Esp.)

Mezzotint, detail

Additional Information

Carol Wax, The Mezzotint: History and Technique. New York : H.N. Abrams, 1990


  • The Bullfinch Guide to Art History, Shearer West (ed.), Bullfinch Press, Boston, 1996

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