Eye Candy for Today: Ophelia, Stephenson mezzotint after Millais

Ophelia, James Stephenson, after John Everett Millais, Mezzotint, etching and Stipple,
Ophelia, James Stephenson, after John Everett Millais

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mezzotint, etching and Stipple, roughly 21 x 34 inches (53 x 86 cm).

In a kind of artistic collaboration that was not uncommon at the time, highly skilled etcher and engraver James Stephenson has interpreted as a print what is perhaps the most famous work by Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais.

You can see a high-resolution zoomable image of the original painting on Google Art Project.

Millais’ extraordinary attention to the observation of nature is carried over into Stephenson’s delicately handled print. The result is quite astonishing, really, not just in the detail and fidelity to the painting, but in Stephenson’s wonderfully delicate and subtle handling of the medium, and his superb control of value throughout the composition.

Mezzotint, a process related to etching — and more closely to drypoint — is a method of creating halftones by texturing the surface of an etching plate with tiny dots that will receive the ink. (See the Met’s essay: The Printed Image in the West: Mezzotint, the London National Portrait Gallery’s Early History of Mezzotinet, and Wikipedia for more information.)

For more on the original painting, see my post on John Everett Millais.

 
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