Rupert von der Pfalz (Bohemian, 16191682) after Pietro dell'Vecchia (Italian, 1602/31678)
Mezzotint; 11 x 7 7/8 in. (27.9 x 20 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1933 (33.52.32)
Prince Rupert of the Rhine (son of the exiled Frederick V of Bohemia) was one of the earliest practitioners of mezzotint, and a vital contributor to its development. Rupert met Ludwig von Siegen (the technique's inventor) in 1654, but did not attempt his own mezzotints until 1657. He made this impressive print the following year. He began by roughening his plate with a serrated-edged hatcher (a prototype of the modern mezzotint "rocker") to make the parallel shading lines at the upper left of the sheet, and the toothed wheel of a roulette (apparently attached to a pivoted pole) to form the dotlike texture of the man's skin. Next, he sliced away the metal burr with a sharp-edged scraper, and polished it with a smooth-tipped burnisher to retrieve the highlights of the white paper. Finally, he added etched lines to form the feather in the youth's cap, and the edges of his slashed-silk sleeves. Interestingly, in the original painting (attributed to Giorgione in the seventeenth century), the sleeves are made of chain mail.