Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/616

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lines in the sulphur with lampblack, thus enabling himself to judge of the effect of his engraving thus far.

At a later period it was discovered that a proof could be taken on damp paper by filling the engraved lines with a certain ink and wiping it off the surface of the plate, sufficient pressure being applied to make the paper go into the hollowed or engraved lines and bring the ink out of them. This was the beginning of plate printing, but nobody at first suspected the artistic and commercial importance of the discovery. The niello engravers thought it a convenient way of proving their work, as it saved the trouble of the sulphur cast, but they saw no further into the future. They went on engraving niello just the same, to ornament jewelry and furniture; nor was it until the next century that the new method of printing was carried out to its great and wonderful results. Even in our day the full importance of it is only understood by persons who have made the fine arts a subject of special study.

The earliest engravers on metal for the purpose of multiplying by printing, of which we have reliable information concerning names and dates, were the German artists, Martin Schongauer and Albert Dürer. Schongauer was the earlier artist of the two, as he died in 1488, while the date of Dürer's death is 1528, just forty years later.

Schongauer, though a generation before Dürer, was scarcely inferior to him in the use of the graver, but Dürer has a much greater reputation—due in a large measure to his singular imaginative powers. Schongauer is the first great engraver who is known to us by name, although he was preceded by an unknown German master who is called "the Master of 1466." He had Gothic notions of art, but used the graver skillfully in his own way; conceiving of line and shade as separate elements, yet shading with an evident desire to follow the form of the thing shaded, and with lines in various directions.

Schongauer's art is a great stride in advance, and we find in him an evident pleasure in the bold use of the graver; his outline and shade were better blended, the shade being done more by the use of curved lines than is found in the works of those before him.

Dürer continued Schongauer's curved shading with increasing delicacy and skill, and as he found himself able to perform feats with the graver which amused both himself and his buyers, he overloaded his plates with quantities of living and inanimate objects, each of which he finished with as much care as if it were the most important thing in the composition.

The engravers of those days had no conception of any necessity for subordinating one part of their work to another; they