Toggle mobile menu

What does “Intaglio” mean?

Intaglio is a type of printing in which cuts are made into a metal plate.  The word “Intaglio” means “incising” in Italian.

Intaglio printing, which emerged in the 1500s, was a major development in print-making.  Before then, prints were generally made by relief cuts.  In other words, material would be removed from the plate and the areas of the plate which were left remaining would be inked and pressed on the paper.  The result is generally an even coating of paint on the paper.  With intaglio printing, however, variations in the depth and width of the cut allows the artist to control the amount of ink deposited on the paper, creating far more expressive works.

Intaglios are distinguished by their three-dimensionality.  The pressure of the printing press pushing the paper onto the plate causes the ink to be raised up from the surface of the paper.

Intaglio prints can be made by etching or engraving the plate.

Categories: Printmaking Terms, Types of Prints