On Display Scottish National Gallery
Rembrandt’s etchings display extraordinary originality and innovation. This is the etched copper plate for ‘Beggar Woman Leaning on a Stick’. It is one of only eighty-two surviving etched plates of the three hundred or so that Rembrandt created. To make an etching the artist coats a thin copper plate with an acid-resistant layer of wax. He then draws the image into the wax using an etching needle. Once the design is complete, the plate is placed in a bath of dilute acid, and the drawn image is ‘bitten’ into the plate by the acid. When the wax is removed, the incised lines of the design remain on the plate. It is then dabbed with ink and wiped so that ink remains only in the incised lines. Together, the plate and paper are rolled through a press, transferring the image onto the paper.