Carl Bloch is regarded in many circles as one of the great depicters of religious art of the 19th Century. His work has seen a resurgence of popularity, in Utah in particular thanks to exhibitions at the BYU Museum of Art and works borrowed from collections in New York and Bloch's native Denmark. But not all of his works are so grandiose. Bloch was a respected engraver and illustrator and did dozens of humble scenes depicting stories from the Bible.
In traditional pure etching, a metal (usually copper, zinc or steel) plate is covered with a waxy ground which is resistant to acid. The artist then scratches off the ground with a pointed etching needle where he or she wants a line to appear in the finished piece, so exposing the bare metal. The plate is then dipped in a bath of acid, technically called the mordant or etchant, or has acid washed over it. The acid "bites" into the metal (it dissolves part of the metal) where it is exposed, leaving behind lines sunk into the plate. The remaining ground is then cleaned off the plate. The plate is inked all over, and then the ink wiped off the surface, leaving only the ink in the etched lines. The plate is then put through a high-pressure printing press together with a sheet of paper (often moistened to soften it). The paper picks up the ink from the etched lines, making a print.