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What is a wood engraving?

A wood engraving is a print made by cutting an image into the end grain of a piece of wood.  It is different from a “woodcut“, in which the image is cut into the face of the board, though often people refer to all prints made by cutting into wood as a “woodcut”.

To make the print on the paper, the artist applies ink to the face of the block of wood and presses the paper onto the inked wood.  The area that was cut away leaves no ink on the paper.

Woodcut is one of the earliest forms of print-making, used in China as early as the Fifth Century CE.  Wood engraving is generally thought to have been invented only in the late Eighteenth Century, commonly attributed to Thomas Bewick.

Some important wood engravers include Honoré Daumier, Leonard Baskin, M.C. Escher, Barbara Howard, Howard Pyle, and Rockwell Kent.

Categories: Printmaking Terms, Types of Prints