Frank Auerbach is one of the most renowned artists of the later 20th century. He has made prints throughout his career, many of them, such as this, a study of one of the same few subjects whose portraits he paints repeatedly. 'Jake' is Jake Tilson, himself an artist and printmaker.
This plate is one of several plates (by various artists) which have been donated to the V&A through the good offices of the printer Marc Balakjian and his partner at Studio Prints, Dorothea Wight. Marc Balakjian has provided valuable insights into Auerbach's working methods. In this case he explained that rather than using a conventional etching needle, Auerbach preferred to use a screwdriver, using its flat edge for the broad lines, and turning it sideways to get a point to make the finer lines. Auerbach's use of line in his printmaking is very distinctive. At one point a mistake has been 'erased' by hammering the plate from the back to lift the surface.
The artist has cancelled the plate unobtrusively by adding three small punched marks lower left, rather than by scoring through the image.