Art Term

Wood engraving

A printmaking method distinct from woodcut in that the line is incised into the woodblock, rather than the background being cut away to leave a line in relief

Edward Calvert, ‘The Brook’ 1829
Edward Calvert
The Brook 1829

Wood engraving is usually done on the end grain of a block of boxwood, which is very hard, and so extremely fine detail is possible. It became widely used in the nineteenth century as a method of reproducing pictures in books, newspapers and journals before the invention of photo-mechanical methods of reproduction, but was also occasionally used by artists, such as Edward Calvert, as an original printmaking medium.

Wood engraving is an intaglio technique. Intaglio refers to any printmaking method where the image is produced by incising into the printing plate and where it is the incised line or area that holds the ink to create the image.

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