A History Of Wood Engraving

By Albert Garrett - Rating: 6/10

The title of this one is a bit deceptive. The book is actually a history of British wood engraving. It starts out at the very beginnings of art history by making the tenuous claim that European cave art was actually a form of engraving. There are some nods to Chinese works, then quite a bit about the woodcuts of the Albrecht Dürer and other formschneider print makers (again, not wood engraving!). The author then breezes past the many decades of the golden era of commercial wood engraving only to spend chapter after chapter gushing over Eric Gill and works of the early 20th Century. Eric Gill is fine and all, and Gill Sans is a lovely typeface, but can Lynd Ward or Fritz Eichenburg get a little love here? Still, even if the writing is rather dull and the scope somewhat limited, the book is filled with plenty of examples of fantastic engravings in all different styles.

As a bit of a side note, the layout of the illustrations in this book sucks. Not once was the picture on the same page as the passages that covered it. Most of the time I would have to flip back 30–40 pages to find the relevant engraving, then flip back losing my place in the text. Were all my old college art history books this poorly organized and I’m just forgetting?

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