French copperplate etching exhibition opens in Beijing

By Yang Yan



An exhibition of French copperplate etching is underway in the Chinese capital, featuring collections from Li Keran Academy of Painting.

Over 200 copperplate prints on show from the Palace of Versailles use a technique that has a history of nearly 600 years and requires a certain degree of skill. And it's been practiced by some of the greats in European art. From German Renaissance figure Dürer to French impressionist Monet and even modernists Picasso and Matisse.

Copperplate Etching. /CGTN

The origins of copperplate etching can be traced back to Medieval Europe. An image is drawn on a copperplate then transferred onto paper using a printing press. The traditional method has evolved over centuries into an art form in its own right.

Copperplate etching. /CGTN

Yang Hui, curator of Changyang Art Museum, said: "These copperplate prints are small and delicate. They are quite different from Chinese paintings, which are grand and magnificent. This exhibit gives people here in Beijing a chance to closely feel the charm of European art."

Copper-plate etching arrived in China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) by way of European missionaries and gained popularity during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), winning the emperor's favor in Emperor Qianlong's reign. Today, copperplate etching has become a form of cultural exchange between China and France.

Copperplate etching. /CGTN

Guo Renzhi, a Beijing resident viewed the exhibition, said, "I'm in awe. The pieces are very detailed. The themes are colorful, even the ones on human figures and landscapes. The depictions are meticulous. When you look carefully, you'll see they're so vivid. Even if it's in black and white, you can still see how the brightness changes."

The exhibit runs through October.