Printmaking - Woodcutting


WOODCUTS are the oldest method of printmaking. They were first developed in China in the 9th Century.  As printmaking evolved in Europe the craft of woodcut and engraving (all definitions) provided a rich history of imagery based on the use of line to create form and value.   The image above is a woodcut created by Albrecht rer in 1513, depicting Veronica's Veil, a medieval legend regarding Christ's passion.  rer , considered the Leonardo of the North, reached fame in his time with a comprehensive collection of woodcuts titled The Revelation of St. John.  

To create a woodcut, the artist draws a design on a piece of wood sawed lengthwise across the grain. Pine is the wood most commonly used, although fruitwoods such as pear or cherry may also be used. After smoothing the surface, the wood may be hardened by treating it with shellac.  Prints can then be made on cloth, wood, parchment and other media.  In 14th century paper was being more available and this added substantially to the growth of printmaking, as well as books.   The Gutenberg's press invented in 1450, created cause for the mass production of books, and in these books, woodcuts would provide illustrations.  This is the time and place where Albrecht rer became the master of the woodcut technique.