En Europa, el grabado comienza a producirse en el ámbito textil en el S. VI, mientras que la producción sobre papel tuvo que esperar hasta la llegada del mismo desde el lejano oriente. Las primeras producciones sobre papel fueron en Játiva, España, en 1151. Las primeras xilografías fueron naipes producidos en Alemania a comienzos del S. XV. Poco tiempo después aparecen los primeros sellos en la Inglaterra de Enrique VI.

Hoy podemos afirmar que el grabado fue uno de los motores del Renacimiento: la posibilidad de reproducir la obra con gran calidad permite, por primera vez en la historia, a los artistas del momento, el poder conocer la obra de los clásicos sin moverse de su ciudad.

Las técnicas que en origen tenían carácter imitativo poco a poco fueron evolucionando y tomando valor.

El grabado a partir de planchas de metal se introdujo pocas décadas después de la xilografía, con grandes resultados.

El más antiguo data de 1446, en Alemania y de allí pasó a Italia y Países Bajos. Quizás el artista grabador más emblemático sea Alberto Durero (S. XVI), influido por sus viajes en Italia.

In Europe, the engraving was used in the textile industry in the 6th century, but the printing on paper had to wait until this was imported from the eastern world. The first productions on paper appeared in Játiva, Spain, in 1151. The first pieces of xylography were playing cards produced in Germany at the beginning of the 15th century. Short time after the first stamps appeared in England during the reign of Henry VI.

Today we can affirm that the process of engraving was one of the first motors of Renaissance: the possibility of reproducing a piece of work with great quality allowed the artists, for the first time in History, to get to know the work of classic artists without getting out of his city.

The techniques that originally had a mere imitative intention evolved and acquired a further value.

The engraving using metal sheets was successfully introduced a few decades after xylography.

The oldest one dates from 1446 (Germany), from where it was exported to Italy and the Netherlands. The most renowned engraving artist might be Alberto Durero (16th century), influenced by his trips around Italy.

The 17th century witnessed how the engraving flourished. The most used technique is the engraving using acids (etching), as it was considered less a mechanical and more a creative work. Although Italy was the biggest producer of engraving works at that time, almost all artists were foreigners: Jacques Callot and Claudio de Lorena or Rembrandt, who lent us an abundant legacy in this field.

In the 17th century, the center of production is moved from Italy with Tiepolo, who had an influence on Goya. Canaleto and Piranesi were also well known. The tradition of engraving in England began in the 18th century with Hogart, and was continued with Rowlandson and Willam Blake, the most important of all British engravers, and contemporary of Goya, who searched new fields of expression with this technique.

In the 19th century, the engraving follows the same movements as the rest of the plastic arts. In France we find artists such as Ingres, Delacroix and the School of Barbizon (Daubigny, Rousseau and Corot). Neoclassical architecture projects frequently remained as impossible projects, only visualized in paper. Satirical speech was present with Honoré Daumier, who performed more than 4000 lithographies, mainly to be used in newspapers. Among the impressionist artists, the most remarkable engravers were Manet and Degas, who also used the technique of lithography.

In America we can find Whistler and James Audubon, although the last one used the engraving in the field of natural sciences and not for artistic purposes.

The engraving in the 20th century

During the first half of the 20th century there was an explosion of the art of engraving. Cubism, expressionism, surrealism, abstract expressionism or pop art, they have all based a substantial part of its principles in engraving. In the first place we must mention Picasso, who worked with lithography, etching, xylography and drypoint. Matisse, Rouault, Chagal, Joan Miró, Max Ernst, Jan Arp, Salvador Dalí and other renowned artists used this technique as well.

In Germany, expressionism encountered in xylography a language in common and was continued by the Bauhauss School, where artists such as Kandinsky and Paul Klee produced several works.
After 1950, the engraving has become the main form of expression for avant-garde artists. Among contemporary artists we find Robert Motherwell, Tobert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

Moving away from the vision of abstract expressionist artists, young artists emerged from popular culture (Pop Art). By combining material from media (magazines, newspapers, movies and pictures) they obtained inventive images. Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Indiana defied tradition with their printings that introduced publicity and comic aesthetics in art galleries.

Today we can state that is rare to find well known artists that have not performed the edition of their graphic work: etching, lithography, serigraphy, xylography… a great variety of alternatives that allow the multiplication of the work and, therefore, a higher distribution among the international scene.

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