In 1645, Abraham Bosse, an instructor at the Académie royale in Paris, published an engraving manual specifically focused on the technique called taille-douce or soft cutting, which is the cutting of straight lines on soft copper plates. Sixteen wonderfully detailed illustrations show the individual steps of cutting and printing a plate, including the use of a new, rolling press. As the manual continues, Bosse also introduces etching, the more modern printing technique using of baths of acid to cut the lines in the copper.
The book proved quite popular, revised many times and translated into several languages. With each new edition, there are additions and corrections as the practice of etching itself was changing. To collect each variation is to document the progression of technical printing information both practical and historical.
Princeton is fortunate to have not only the first French edition and the first German translation, but has now acquired the rare first Dutch translation. The Dutch edition has, in particular, a section on recipes for the composition of hard varnishes that can be used as an etching ground. Both summer and winter recipes are included, taking into account the changes in humidity that effects the artist’s materials. To compare earlier editions, see: