This mezzotint by David Lucas after John Constable's The Lock, 1834, demonstrates the tonal range of the medium. The regular mark of the mezzotint rocker is clearly visible in the detail.
Literally meaning ‘half tone’, mezzotint is an intaglio process which works from dark to light. The plate is worked with a rocker until the whole surface is roughened and will hold the ink. The image is then burnished out, highlighting it in white against a black background when printed. It is an arduous process to prepare the plate but the results can be spectacular. As with drypoint, the plates may begin to wear down and the image can begin to lose its contrast. One of the great collaborations in the history of printmaking was between Constable and the professional mezzotinter David Lucas, who translated his vision into a series of wonderfully tonal printed images capturing the effects of light and weather on a landscape.