Gift of The Print Club of Cleveland 1932.308
Catalogue raisonné: Smith R-3
The first great exponent of wood engraving was the Englishman Thomas Bewick. The endgrain of hard boxwood (Turkish boxwood is especially good) has a smooth, uniform texture that can be engraved with a sharp instrument, making closely set lines possible for the production of a great range of textures and tones as well as minute detail. The surface of the block is inked so that engraved areas on the printed image appear as white lines (the white of the paper) against an inked background. Because the block is very strong, large numbers of impressions can be printed, and because the block can be printed along with type, wood engraving became the principal method for illustrating books, magazines, and newspapers in the 19th century.
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