intaglio

intaglio

[in-tal-yoh, -tahl-; It. een-tah-lyaw]
intaglio, design cut into stone or other material or etched or engraved in a metal plate, producing a concave, instead of a convex, effect. It is the reverse of a relief or cameo. The term also designates a gem so cut. Seals and signet rings usually bear intaglio designs, so that when stamped upon wax or other plastic substance the impression is in relief. See engraving; etching; printing.

Engraved or incised work on gemstones, glass, ceramics, stone, or similar material in which the design is sunk beneath the surface, the opposite of cameo and relief. It is the most ancient form of gem engraving; the earliest known Babylonian cylinder seals date from circa 4000 BC. The term intaglio is also used to describe printmaking processes in which the design is cut, scratched, or etched into a printing surface of copper, zinc, or aluminum; ink is then rubbed into the incisions or grooves, the surface is wiped clean, and the paper is embossed into the incised lines with pressure from a roller press. Intaglio processes are the most versatile of printmaking methods, as they can produce a wide range of effects.

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It is also an Italian word that means the activity of carving (mainly) wood for decorative purposes (for example, in furniture).

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