Mezzotint is one of the most fascinating and elaborate printed graphic techniques in history. Invented in the 17th century by the German Ludwig von Siegen, it is – unlike etching and engraving – the first surface technology in intaglio printing. It was mainly used for the reproduction of paintings and is marked by a velvety and deep black base, in which the artist scrapes the bright lights.
In their mimetic effect the incredibly soft transitions in the various shades of grey can best be compared with black and white photography in the 19th century. The heyday of mezzotint occurred in English art in the 18th century. It was also taught at the Vienna Academy in the second half of the 18th century, leading to Austrian artists likewise engaging with this technique.
In the graphics collection of the Alte Galerie, there are somewhat more than 350 objects to be found, both from English (including James McArdell, Valentine Green, Richard Earlom among others) and German artists (Johann Gottfried Haid, Rugendas, Johann Peter Pichler etc.). The Neue Galerie, Graz also owns around 20 sheets from the 19th and 20th centuries.
60 works from this rich trove are presented as part of the temporary exhibition in the special exhibition rooms in Schloss Eggenberg, titled The Black Art. (Text source: Museum Joanneum)
Curators: Karin Leitner-Ruhe, Christine Rabensteiner