Book illustration

The illustration of manuscript books was well established in ancient times, and the tradition of the illuminated manuscript thrived in the West until the invention of printing. Other parts of the world had comparable traditions, such as the Persian miniature. Modern book illustration comes from the 15th-century woodcut illustrations that were fairly rapidly included in early printed books, and later block books.[1] Other techniques such as engraving, etching, lithography and various kinds of colour printing were to expand the possibilities and were exploited by such masters as Daumier, Doré or Gavarni.[1]

Randolph Caldecott illustration2
Illustration from "The House that Jack Built" in The Complete Collection of Pictures & Songs; engraving and printing by Edmund Evans, illustration by Randolph Caldecott (1887)
One of 12 illustrations in the 4th edition of Paradise Lost by John Milton, by John Baptist Medina, 1688


Book illustration as we now know it evolved from early European woodblock printing. In the early 15th century, playing cards were created using block printing, which was the first use of prints in a sequenced and logical order. "The first known European block printings with a communications function were devotional prints of saints."

Illumination with doodles and drawings, including an open-mouthed human profile, with multiple tongues sticking out. Copulata, "De Anima", f. 2a. HMD Collection, WZ 230 M772c 1485.

As printing took off and books became common, printers began to use woodcuts to illustrate them. Hence, "centers for woodblock playing-card and religious-print production became centers for illustrated books.[2] Printers of large early books often reused several times, and also had detachable "plugs" of figures, or the attributes of saints, which they could rearrange within a larger image to make several variations.[3] Luxury books were for a few decades often printed with blank spaces for manual illumination in the old way.

Unlike later techniques, woodcut uses relief printing just as metal moveable type does, so that pages including both text and illustration can be set up and printed together. However the technique either gives rather crude results or was expensive if a high-quality block-cutter was used, and could only manage fine detail on atypically large pages. It was not suitable for the level of detail required for maps, for example, and the 1477 Bolognese edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia was both the first book to contain printed maps and the first to be illustrated by engravings (by Taddeo Crivelli) rather than woodcuts.[4] However hardly any further engraved illustrations were produced for several decades after about 1490, and instead a style of expensive books decorated in metalcut, mostly religious and produced in Paris, was a popular luxury product between about 1480 and 1540.[5] In the middle of the 16th century woodcut was gradually overtaken by the intaglio printing techniques of engraving and etching which became dominant by about 1560-90, first in Antwerp, then Germany, Switzerland and Italy, the important publishing centres.[6] They remained so until the later 19th century. They required the illustrations to be printed separately, on a different type of printing press, so encouraging illustrations that took a whole page, which became the norm.

Engraving and etching gave sharper definition and finer detail to the illustrations, and rapidly became dominant by the late 15th century, often with the two techniques mixed together in a single plate. A wide range of books were now illustrated, initially mostly on a few pages, but with the number of illustrations gradually rising over the period, and tending to use more etching than engraving. Particular kinds of books such as scientific and technical works, children's books, and atlases now became very heavily illustrated, and from the mid-18th century many of the new form of the novel had a small number of illustrations.

Luxury books on geographical topics and natural history, and some children's books, had printed illustrations which were then coloured by hand, but in Europe none of the experimental techniques for true colour printing became widely used before the mid-19th century, when several different techniques became successful. In East Asia colour printing with many different woodblocks was increasing widely used; the fully developed technique in Japan was called nishiki-e, and used in books as well as ukiyo-e prints.

Lithography (invented by Alois Senefelder in 1819) allowed for more textual variety and accuracy. This is because the artist could now draw directly on the printing plate itself.[7]

New techniques developed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries revolutionized book illustrations and put new resources at the disposal of artists and designers. In the early nineteenth century, the photogravure process allowed for photographs to be reproduced in books. In this process, light-sensitive gelatin was used to transfer the image to a metal plate, which would then be etched. Another process, chromolithography, which was developed in France in the mid-nineteenth century, permitted color printing. The process was extremely labor-intensive and expensive though as the artist would have to prepare a separate plate for each color used. In the late twentieth century, the process known as offset lithography made color printing cheaper and less-time consuming for the artist. The process used a chemical process to transfer a photographic negative to a rubber surface before printing.[8]

There were various artistic movements and their proponents in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that took an interest in the enrichment of book design and illustration. For example, Aubrey Beardsley, a proponent of both Art Nouveau and Aestheticism, had a great influence over book illustrations. Beardsley specialized in erotica and some of the best examples of his drawings were for the first English edition of Oscar Wilde's Salomé (1894).[9]

Further reading

  • Douglas Martin, The Telling Line Essays On Fifteen Contemporary Book Illustrators (1989)
  • Edward Hodnett, Five Centuries of English Book Illustration (1988)
  • Maurice Sendak, Caldecott & Co.: Notes on Books and Pictures (1988)
  • Joyce Irene Whalley and Tessa Rose Chester, A History of Children's Book Illustration (1988)
  • Elaine Moss, Part of the Pattern (1986) [incl. interviews with illustrators]
  • John Lewis, The Twentieth Century Book: Its Illustration and Design (new ed. 1984)
  • H. Carpenter and M. Prichard, The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature (1984)
  • Brigid Peppin and Lucy Micklethwaite, Dictionary of British Book Illustrators: The Twentieth Century (1983)
  • Alan Ross, Colours of War: War Art 1939-45 (1983)
  • Hugh Williamson, Methods of Book Design (3rd. ed., 1983)
  • Edward Hodnett, Image and Text: Studies in the Illustration of English Literature (1982)
  • Hans Adolf Halbey, Im weiten Feld der Buchkunst (1982) [on 20th century]
  • John Harthan, The History of the Illustrated Book: The Western Tradition (1981)
  • Pat Gilmore, Artists at Curwen (1977. Tate Gallery)
  • William Feaver, When We Were Young: Two Centuries of Children's Book Illustration (1977)
  • Illustrators [periodical] (1975 onwards)
  • Images [annual] (1975 onwards)
  • Donnerae MacCann and Olga Richard, The Children's First Books: A Critical Study of Pictures and Text (1973)
  • The Francis Williams Bequest: An Exhibition of Illustrated Books, 1967-71 [National Book League] (1972)
  • Frank Eyre, British Children's Books in the Twentieth Century (1971)
  • Walter Herdeg, An International Survey of Children's Book Illustration = special issue of Graphis; 155 (1971) [& subsequent surveys]
  • Diana Klemin, The Illustrated Book: Its Art and Craft (1970)
  • David Bland, A History of Book Illustration (2nd ed. 1969)
  • W. J. Strachan, The Artist and the Book in France (1969)
  • Bettina Hurlimann, Picture-Book World (1968)
  • Bettina Hurlimann, Three Centuries of Children's Books in Europe (1967)
  • Adrian Wilson, The Design of Books (1967)
  • Rigby Graham, Romantic Book Illustration in England, 1943-55 (1965. Private Libraries Association)
  • Bob Gill and John Lewis, Illustration: Aspects and Directions (1964)
  • Robin Jacques, Illustrators at Work (1963. Studio Books)
  • David Bland, The Illustration of Books (3rd. ed. 1962)
  • Lynton Lamb, Drawing for Illustration (1962)
  • Anders Hedvall and Bror Zachrisson, 'Children and their books', in Penrose Annual; 56 (1962), p. 59-66 & plates [incl. children's reactions]
  • John Ryder, Artists of a Certain Line: A Selection of Illustrators for Children's Books (1960)
  • Lynton Lamb, 'The True Illustrator', in Motif; 2 (1959 February), p. 70-76
  • John Lewis, A Handbook of Type and Illustration (1956)
  • John Lewis and John Brinkley, Graphic Design (1954)
  • James Boswell, 'English book illustration today', in Graphis; 7/34 (1951), p. 42-57
  • British Book Illustration 1935-45 [exhibition catalogue, National Book League] (1949)
  • John Piper, 'Book illustration and the painter-artist', in Penrose Annual; 43 (1949), p. 52-54
  • Lynton Lamb, 'Predicaments of illustration', in Signature; new series, 4 (1947), p. 16-27
  • Bertha E. Mahoney, Illustrators of Children's Books 1744-1945 (1947) [and periodic supplements]

See also


  1. ^ a b "History of Book Illustration". Questia. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  2. ^ Meggs, Philip B. (2006). Meggs' History of Graphic Design. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 79.
  3. ^ Mayor, 26-34
  4. ^ Landau, David, and Parshall, Peter. The Renaissance Print, Yale, 1996, p. 241, ISBN 0300068832; Crone, G.R., review of Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. A Series of Atlases in Facsimile, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 130, No. 4 (Dec., 1964), pp. 577-578, Published by: The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), Article DOI: 10.2307/1792324, JSTOR
  5. ^ Mayor, 247-252
  6. ^ Mayor, 411-412
  7. ^ Lyons, Martyn (2011). Books: A Living History. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum. p. 135. ISBN 9781606060834.
  8. ^ Lyons, Martyn (2011). Books: A Living History. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum. p. 190. ISBN 9781606060834.
  9. ^ Lyons, Martyn (2011). Books: A Living History. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum. p. 191. ISBN 9781606060834.


  • Mayor, Hyatt A., Prints and People, Metropolitan Museum of Art/Princeton, 1971, ISBN 0691003262
  • S. Lazaris, Art et science vétérinaire à Byzance: Formes et fonctions de l’image hippiatrique, Turnhout, 2010, ISBN 978-2-503-53446-6 [1]

External links

Anthony Browne (author)

Anthony Edward Tudor Browne (born 11 September 1946, in Sheffield) is a British writer and illustrator of children's books, primarily picture books, with fifty titles to his name. For his lasting contribution as a children's illustrator he won the biennial international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2000, the highest recognition available to creators of children's books. From 2009 to 2011 he was Children's Laureate.Browne won two Kate Greenaway Medals from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book illustration. For the 50th anniversary of the Medal (1955–2005), a panel named his 1983 medalist Gorilla one of the top ten winning works, which composed the ballot for a public election of the nation's favourite.

Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham (19 September 1867 – 6 September 1939) was an English book illustrator. He is recognized as one of the leading literary figures during the Golden Age of British book illustration. His work is noted for its robust pen and ink drawings, which were combined with the use of watercolour. Rackham's 51 color pieces for the Early American tale became a turning point in the production of books since - through color-separated printing - it featured the accurate reproduction of color artwork. Some of his best-known works include the illustrations for Rip Van Winkle, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Bernard Krigstein

Bernard Krigstein (March 22, 1919 – January 8, 1990), was an American illustrator and gallery artist who received acclaim for his innovative and influential approach to comic book art, notably in EC Comics. He was known as Bernie Krigstein, and his artwork usually displayed the signature B. Krigstein. His best-known work in comic books is the short story "Master Race", originally published in the debut issue (April 1955) of EC Comics' Impact.

Black Ships Before Troy

Black Ships Before Troy: The story of the Iliad is a novel for children written by Rosemary Sutcliff, illustrated by Alan Lee, and published (posthumously) by Frances Lincoln in 1993. Partly based on the Iliad, the book retells the story of the Trojan War, from the birth of Paris to the building of the Trojan Horse. For his part Lee won the annual Kate Greenaway Medal from the Library Association, recognizing the year's best children's book illustration by a British subject.

Crichton Award for Children's Book Illustration

The Crichton Award for Children's Book Illustration is one of several awards presented annually by the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA).

The award was set up from a legacy made to the Victorian Branch of the CBCA by Mr Wallace Raymond Crichton in 1985. The first award was presented in 1988.

To see the history of the CBCA and other CBCA Awards, see: List of CBCA Awards

Golden Kite Award

The Golden Kite Awards are given annually by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators to recognize excellence in children’s literature. The award is a golden medallion showing a child flying a kite. Instituted in 1973, the Golden Kite Awards are the only children’s literary award judged by a jury of peers. Eligible books must be written or illustrated by SCBWI members, and submitted either by publishers or individuals.With the split of the Fiction award into a Middle Grade and a Young Adult award in 2016 and the split of Nonfiction into "for Younger Readers" and "for Older Readers" in 2018, the award currently includes six categories (the other two are Picture Book Text and Picture Book Illustration). Winners are chosen by a panel of judges consisting of children’s book writers and illustrators. In addition to the Golden Kite Award winners, honor book recipients are named by the judges. Since 2006, the best author and illustrator in each category wins a $2,500 grant cash prize.Since 2003, the Sid Fleischman Award for excellence in humorous writing is given in conjunction with the Golden Kite Awards.

Harry Clarke

Harry Clarke (17 March 1889 – 6 January 1931) was an Irish stained-glass artist and book illustrator. Born in Dublin, he was a leading figure in the Irish Arts and Crafts Movement.

Headpiece (book illustration)

Headpiece (also spelled head-piece), is a decoration printed in the blank space at the beginning of a chapter or other division of a book, usually an ornamental panel, printer's ornament or a small illustration done by a professional illustrator.The use of decorative headpieces in manuscripts was inherited by the medieval West from late Antique and Byzantine book production, and enjoyed particular popularity during the Renaissance.Headpieces, sometimes incorporating a rubric or heading, as well as Zoomorphic and anthropomorphic motifs were used widely in manuscripts and in editions of the Bible in the 15th-century.

Klavdij Palčič

Klavdij Palčič (born 5 August 1940 in Trieste, Italy) is a painter, print artist, drawer, and scene painter. After graduating from the Secondary School of Science in Trieste, Palčič's plan was to study political sciences, but he changed his mind and entered the Venice School of Arts where he graduated in 1964.

During the 1960s, Palčič was a member of the Trieste art group “Raccordosei-Arte viva” and taught art and art history classes at various Slovenian high schools in the area of Trieste and in Gorizia. During the 1970s he established and managed a print art studio in Trieste.

Palčič's works appeared at every group exhibition prepared by “Raccordosei–Arte viva” as well as many International Exhibitions of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana, and, since 1967, in numerous anthological exhibitions by artists from the Friuli and Julian region.

He has held several solo exhibitions and exhibited at over 150 group exhibitions in Slovenia, Italy, and other parts of the world.

Palčič received numerous awards and prizes in Slovenia, Italy and many other countries.

In 1984, the artist received the Prešeren Fund Award in the category of fine arts and scene design. Palčič works in the fields of painting, printing, book illustration, scene design and costume design. He has worked as a scenographer with theatres in Trieste, Ljubljana, Vienna and Venice.

He lives and works in Trieste, Italy.

Maginel Wright Enright

Maginel Wright Enright Barney (June 19, 1881 – April 18, 1966) was an American children's book illustrator and graphic artist. She was the younger sister of Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, and the mother of Elizabeth Enright, children's book writer and illustrator.

Persian miniature

A Persian miniature (Persian: نگارگری ایرانی) is a small painting on paper, whether a book illustration or a separate work of art intended to be kept in an album of such works called a muraqqa. The techniques are broadly comparable to the Western and Byzantine traditions of miniatures in illuminated manuscripts. Although there is an equally well-established Persian tradition of wall-painting, the survival rate and state of preservation of miniatures is better, and miniatures are much the best-known form of Persian painting in the West, and many of the most important examples are in Western, or Turkish, museums. Miniature painting became a significant genre in Persian art in the 13th century, receiving Chinese influence after the Mongol conquests, and the highest point in the tradition was reached in the 15th and 16th centuries. The tradition continued, under some Western influence, after this, and has many modern exponents. The Persian miniature was the dominant influence on other Islamic miniature traditions, principally the Ottoman miniature in Turkey, and the Mughal miniature in the Indian sub-continent.

Persian art under Islam had never completely forbidden the human figure, and in the miniature tradition the depiction of figures, often in large numbers, is central. This was partly because the miniature is a private form, kept in a book or album and only shown to those the owner chooses. It was therefore possible to be more free than in wall paintings or other works seen by a wider audience. The Qur'an and other purely religious works are not known to have been illustrated in this way, though histories and other works of literature may include religiously related scenes, including those depicting the Prophet Muhammed, after 1500 usually without showing his face.As well as the figurative scenes in miniatures, which this article concentrates on, there was a parallel style of non-figurative ornamental decoration which was found in borders and panels in miniature pages, and spaces at the start or end of a work or section, and often in whole pages acting as frontispieces. In Islamic art this is referred to as "illumination", and manuscripts of the Qur'an and other religious books often included considerable number of illuminated pages. The designs reflected contemporary work in other media, in later periods being especially close to book-covers and Persian carpets, and it is thought that many carpet designs were created by court artists and sent to the workshops in the provinces.In later periods miniatures were increasingly created as single works to be included in albums called muraqqa, rather than illustrated books. This allowed non-royal collectors to afford a representative sample of works from different styles and periods.

Rick Geary

Rick Geary (born February 25, 1946) is an American cartoonist and illustrator. He is known for works such as A Treasury of Victorian Murder and graphic novel biographies of Leon Trotsky and J. Edgar Hoover.

Geary has won two awards from the National Cartoonist Society: a Magazine and Book Illustration Award in 1994, and a Graphic Novel award in 2017.

Rosenbach Museum and Library

The Rosenbach is located within two 19th-century townhouses at 2008 and 2010 Delancey Place in Philadelphia. The historic houses contain the collections and treasures of Philip Rosenbach and his younger brother Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach. The brothers owned the Rosenbach Company which became the preeminent dealer of rare books, manuscripts and decorative arts during the first half of the 20th century. Dr. Rosenbach in particular was seminal in the rare book world, helping to build libraries such as the Widener Library at Harvard, The Huntington Library and the Folger Shakespeare Library. In 2013, the Rosenbach became a subsidiary of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation, but maintains its own board and operates independently of the public library system.The Rosenbach documents a panorama of American and European culture through its vast historical, literary and artistic treasures.


Stencilling produces an image or pattern by applying pigment to a surface over an intermediate object with designed gaps in it which create the pattern or image by only allowing the pigment to reach some parts of the surface. The stencil is both the resulting image or pattern and the intermediate object; the context in which stencil is used makes clear which meaning is intended. In practice, the (object) stencil is usually a thin sheet of material, such as paper, plastic, wood or metal, with letters or a design cut from it, used to produce the letters or design on an underlying surface by applying pigment through the cut-out holes in the material.

The key advantage of a stencil is that it can be reused to repeatedly and rapidly produce the same letters or design. Although aerosol or painting stencils can be made for one-time use, typically they are made with the intention of being reused. To be reusable, they must remain intact after a design is produced and the stencil is removed from the work surface. With some designs, this is done by connecting stencil islands (sections of material that are inside cut-out "holes" in the stencil) to other parts of the stencil with bridges (narrow sections of material that are not cut out).

Stencil technique in visual art is also referred to as pochoir. A related technique (which has found applicability in some surrealist compositions) is aerography, in which spray-painting is done around a three-dimensional object to create a negative of the object instead of a positive of a stencil design. This technique was used in cave paintings dating to 10,000 BC, where human hands were used in painting handprint outlines among paintings of animals and other objects. The artist sprayed pigment around his hand by using a hollow bone, blown by mouth to direct a stream of pigment.

Screen printing also uses a stencil process, as does mimeography. The masters from which mimeographed pages are printed are often called "stencils". Stencils can be made with one or many colour layers using different techniques, with most stencils designed to be applied as solid colours. During screen printing and mimeography, the images for stenciling are broken down into color layers. Multiple layers of stencils are used on the same surface to produce multi-colored images.

Stephen Gammell

Stephen Gammell (born February 10, 1943) is an American illustrator of children's books. He won the 1989 Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration, recognizing Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman. In 1982 he was a runner-up for Where the Buffaloes Begin by Olaf Baker.Stephen Gammell grew up in Iowa. His father, an art editor for a major magazine, brought home periodicals that gave Stephen early artistic inspiration. His parents also supplied him with lots of pencils, paper, and encouragement. He is self-taught.

He started his career with freelance commercial work, but became interested in children's book illustration. His first picture book was published by G. P. Putnam's Sons in 1973: A Nutty Business by Ida Chittum, featuring a "war" between squirrels and a farmer. That same year he illustrated The Search (Harper & Row, 1973), a juvenile biography of Leo Tolstoy by Sara Newton Carroll. Since then, he has illustrated nearly sixty titles.

Gammell is particularly well known for the surreal, unsettling illustrations he provided for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a series of horror short stories by Alvin Schwartz that is still an adolescent favorite.

He and his wife, photographer Linda Gammell, live in St. Paul, Minnesota. He works daily in his studio, located over a restaurant.

Tony Wright (artist)

Tony Wright (born 23 October 1949, in London) is an artist who created album covers such as Bob Marley's Natty Dread and Traffic's The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys and others including Bob Dylan's Saved

His art work for Traffic's 1971 album The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys and Steve Winwood's 1980 Arc of a Diver were listed amongst Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Album Covers.

'The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys' cover is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Victorian Web

The Victorian Web is a hypertext project derived from hypermedia environments, Intermedia and Storyspace, that anticipated the World Wide Web. The 1,500 or so documents that constitute its kernel were created in 1988-90 by its current webmaster and editor-in-chief George P. Landow (Professor of English and Art History Emeritus at Brown University), with his then graduate assistants David Cody, Glenn Everett, and Kathryn Stockton, as part of the IRIS Intermedia Project at Brown University. This was funded as a proof-of-concept networked hypermedia project by IBM, Apple, the Annenberg Foundation, and other sponsors. It was expanded by contributions from a professor at Vassar College (Anthony S. Wohl), material from the Intermedia Dickens Web (Landow, Julie Launhardt, and Paul Kahn), material from the In Memoriam Web (Landow, Jon Lanestedt), and other sources.In 2000-2001 when Landow was the Shaw Professor of English and Digital Culture (Comp. Science) at the National University of Singapore (NUS), that university paid for an Apache server, staff to set up and maintain it, and undergraduate research assistants, who did scanning and OCR work, and Postdoctoral and Senior Fellows, who created content. Dr. John van Wyhe created the vast majority of material in the science section, which includes primary materials in both French and English, and Dr. Marjorie Bloy created almost all the material about Victorian social and political history. Dr. Tamara S. Wagner, a fellow who worked primarily on a sister site, the Postcolonial Literature and Culture Web, also contributed essays on literary subjects. Philip V. Allingham spent a month at NUS as a Research Fellow, where he began the large section on book illustration and Victorian novelists to which he still contributes.

Since 2000, hundreds of scholars, chiefly from the UK and North America, have contributed more than 50,000 documents and images. The University Scholars Program of the National University of Singapore hosted the website until 2008.Members of the present editorial board, who are all frequent contributors, are Dr. Jacqueline Banerjee (Associate Editor, UK); Professor Philip V. Allingham (Contributing Editor, Canada); Dr. Andrzej Diniejko (Contributing Editor, Poland); Dr. Derek B. Scott (Music Editor, UK); Dr. Diane Greco Josefowicz (Science and Technology Editor, USA); Dr. Simon Cooke (Assistant Editor for Book Illustration and Design, UK); and Robert Freidus (Contributing Photographer for Sculpture and Architecture, UK).The Victorian Web incorporates primary and secondary texts (including book reviews) in the areas of economics, literature, philosophy, religion, political and social history, science, technology, and the visual arts. The visual arts section ranges widely over painting, photography, book design and illustration, sculpture, and the decorative arts, including ceramics, furniture, stained glass and metalwork. Jewelry, textiles, and costume are amongst other topics discussed and illustrated on its website. Awards indicate that it is particularly strong in literature, painting, architecture, sculpture, book illustration, history and religion.

In contrast to archives and web-based libraries, the Victorian Web presents its images and documents, including entire books, as nodes in a network of complex connections. In other words, it emphasizes links rather than the searches. The Victorian Web has many contributors, but unlike wikis, it is edited. Originally conceived in 1987 as a means of helping scholars and students in see connections between different fields, the site has expanded in its scope and vision. For example, commentary on the works of Charles Dickens is linked to his life and to contemporary social and political history, drama, religion, book illustration, and economics. Translations of this and earlier versions: Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish.

In 1990 its pre-web version received the EDUCOM/ENCRIPTAL Higher Education Software Award from National Center for Research to Improve Postsecondary Teaching and Learning; in 2000 it won the Art History Webmasters Award in Paris; in 2010 the London Times declared it "An outstanding resource for literature and history students," saying that it "also makes for fascinating reading from anyone interested in matters ranging from what aspects of Victorian culture have been lost with decimalisation to how people sent letters in those days and the rhyming slang of the day." It has received many awards both for the entire site and specific sections, such as history, visual arts, evolution, and religion. It has been recommended by Britannica, the BBC, the History Channel, and agencies or organizations in England, France, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, and the United States. As of December 2012, the Victorian Web had over 66,000 documents and images. Nearly 4,500 websites link in, and it receives over 1.5 million pages views in a month.A Spanish version of the Victorian Web ( began in October 2009 as part of an intercultural experiment under the direction of Landow and

Dr. Asuncion López-Varela Azcarte of the Facultad de Filologia de Universidad Complutense de Madrid. The translation project was initially supported by grants from her university and from Madrid (Comunidad de Madrid CCG08-UCM/HUM-3851) and the Ministry of Science and Innovation (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación MICINN FFI2008-05388/FISO). López-Varela has recruited approximately 100 volunteers, and thus far 5,000 documents have been translated. There is also a much smaller French version of the site. On 29 March 2010 Landow gave permission to the Library of Congress to archive the Victorian Web for its historical importance.

Wood engraving

Wood engraving is a printmaking and letterpress printing technique, in which an artist works an image or matrix of images into a block of wood. Functionally a variety of woodcut, it uses relief printing, where the artist applies ink to the face of the block and prints using relatively low pressure. By contrast, ordinary engraving, like etching, uses a metal plate for the matrix, and is printed by the intaglio method, where the ink fills the valleys, the removed areas. As a result, wood engravings deteriorate less quickly than copper-plate engravings, and have a distinctive white-on-black character.

Thomas Bewick developed the wood engraving technique at the end of the 18th century. His work differed from earlier woodcuts in two key ways. First, rather than using woodcarving tools such as knives, Bewick used an engraver's burin (graver). With this, he could create thin delicate lines, often creating large dark areas in the composition. Second, wood engraving traditionally uses the wood's end grain—while the older technique used the softer side grain. The resulting increased hardness and durability facilitated more detailed images.

Wood-engraved blocks could be used on conventional printing presses, which were going through rapid mechanical improvements during the first quarter of the 19th century. The blocks were made the same height as, and composited alongside, movable type in page layouts—so printers could produce thousands of copies of illustrated pages with almost no deterioration. The combination of this new wood engraving method and mechanized printing drove a rapid expansion of illustrations in the 19th century. Further, advances in stereotype let wood-engravings be reproduced onto metal, where they could be mass-produced for sale to printers.

By the mid-19th century, many wood engravings rivaled copperplate engravings. Wood engraving was used to great effect by 19th-century artists such as Edward Calvert, and its heyday lasted until the early and mid-20th century when remarkable achievements were made by Eric Gill, Eric Ravilious and others. Though less used now, the technique is still prized in the early 21st century as a high-quality specialist technique of book illustration, and is promoted, for example, by the Society of Wood Engravers, who hold an annual exhibition in London and other British venues.


Woodcut is a relief printing technique in printmaking. An artist carves an image into the surface of a block of wood—typically with gouges—leaving the printing parts level with the surface while removing the non-printing parts. Areas that the artist cuts away carry no ink, while characters or images at surface level carry the ink to produce the print. The block is cut along the wood grain (unlike wood engraving, where the block is cut in the end-grain). The surface is covered with ink by rolling over the surface with an ink-covered roller (brayer), leaving ink upon the flat surface but not in the non-printing areas.

Multiple colors can be printed by keying the paper to a frame around the woodblocks (using a different block for each color). The art of carving the woodcut can be called "xylography", but this is rarely used in English for images alone, although that and "xylographic" are used in connection with block books, which are small books containing text and images in the same block. They became popular in Europe during the latter half of the 15th century. A single-sheet woodcut is a woodcut presented as a single image or print, as opposed to a book illustration.


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