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concerned, copper and steel plate engraving may be held to have gone

out of fashion with the "Annuals."  It is still, indeed, to be found

lingering in that mine of modern art-books--the "Art Journal;" and,

not so very long ago, it made a sumptuous and fugitive reappearance

in Dore's "Idylls of the King," Birket Foster's "Hood," and one or

two other imposing volumes.  But it was badly injured by modern

wood-engraving; it has since been crippled for life by photography;

and it is more than probable that the present rapid rise of modern

etching will give it the coup de grace. {11}

By the end of the seventeenth century the art of engraving on wood

had fallen into disuse.  Writing circa 1770, Horace Walpole goes so

far as to say that it "never was executed in any perfection in

England;" and, speaking afterwards of Papillon's "Traite de la

Gravure," 1766, he takes occasion to doubt if that author would ever

"persuade the world to return to wooden cuts."  Nevertheless, with

Bewick, a few years later, wood-engraving took a fresh departure so

conspicuous that it amounts to a revival.  In what this consisted it

is clearly impossible to show here with any sufficiency of detail;

but between the method of the old wood-cutters who reproduced the

drawings of Durer, and the method of the Newcastle artist, there are

two marked and well-defined differences.  One of these is a

difference in the preparation of the wood and the tool employed.

The old wood-cutters carved their designs with knives and chisels on

strips of wood sawn lengthwise--that is to say, upon the PLANK;

Bewick used a graver, and worked upon slices of box or pear cut

across the grain,--that is to say upon the END of the wood.  The

other difference, of which Bewick is said to have been the inventor,

is less easy to describe.  It consisted in the employment of what is

technically known as "white line."  In all antecedent wood-cutting

the cutter had simply cleared away those portions of the block left

bare by the design, so that the design remained in relief to be

printed from like type.  Using the smooth box block as a uniform

surface from which, if covered with printing ink, a uniformly black

impression might be obtained, Bewick, by cutting white lines across

it at greater or lesser intervals, produced gradations of shade,

from the absolute black of the block to the lightest tints.  The

general result of this method was to give a greater depth of

colouring and variety to the engraving, but its advantages may

perhaps be best understood by a glance at the background of the

"Woodcock" on the following page.

Bewick's first work of any importance was the Gay's "Fables" of

1779.  In 1784 he did another series of "Select Fables."  Neither of

these books, however, can be compared with the "General History of

Quadrupeds," 1790, and the "British Land and Water Birds," 1797 and

1804.  The illustrations to the "Quadrupeds" are in many instances

excellent, and large additions were made to them in subsequent

issues.  But in this collection Bewick laboured to a great extent

under the disadvantage of representing animals with which he was

familiar only through the medium of stuffed specimens or incorrect

drawings.  In the "British Birds," on the contrary, his facilities

for study from the life were greater, and his success was

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