Jackson and Goya

John Baptist Jackson was an 18th century woodcut artist, known specifically for his work with chiaroscuro printing, whereas the artist would render a mid-tone by which to contrast shade and highlight, or a range of colors in the image. However, not until the 1960's was Jackson considered academically or artistically significant. In his book, about the artists by Jacob Kainen, Jackson is credited as being one of the most harshly criticized artists of his time and drew a serious amount of attention as an innovative woodcut artist. A great resource of information regarding the life and works of this artist is available online through the Project Gutenberg website.

Name: Visitation | Date of Print: c. 1753 | Type of Print: Chiaroscuro Woodcut | Artist: John Baptist Jackson | Nationality: English | Artist Life Span: 1701-1780

Fransisco Goya was considered by many to be the artist that catalyzed a turning point from the old world of painting to the period of modernity that followed him. His detailed account of two Spanish conflicts during the early 1800's entitled The Disasters of War are a gripping illustration of everything it's title suggests. His works are often noted for their bold commentary on modern Spanish life. The print seen before you, its title translated to What A Beak of Gold!, is a prime example of this commentary. It is from the satirical collection, Los Caprichos.

Goya was once quoted to have said of this print: "This looks a bit like an academic meeting. Perhaps the parrot is speaking about medicine? However, don't believe a word he says. There is many a doctor who has a 'golden beak' when he is talking, but when he comes to prescriptions, he's a Herod; he can ramble on about pains, but can't cure them: he makes fools of sick people and fills the cemeteries with skulls."

This particular print employs the printing method of aquatint. Like all intaglio printing methods, the artist scratches the surface of a plate to form grooves that hold ink. Aquatint, much like etching, is generally done on either a zinc or copper plate and involves the application of acid resistant rosin in which the artist can etch into with a needle or acid. This rosin is traditionally referred to as a ground. This ground is applied either through an even coat of powder which is then heated, or the ground has been dissolved in spirits and is allowed to dry as an even coating on the plate. Once coated, the plate is submerged in acid for an initial biting, which renders a midtone from which the artist can either apply more ground or more acid, as well as engrave lines in the plate. The finished product can result in even gradients and smooth lines, often having a slightly watery look.

Name: Que Pico de Oro | Date of Print: c. 1796 | Type of Print: Etching and Aquatint | Artist: Fransicso Goya | Nationality: Spanish | Artist Life Span: 1746-1828