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Design printed from a plank of wood incised parallel to the vertical axis of the wood's grain. One of the oldest methods of making prints, it was used in China to decorate textiles from the 5th century. Printing from wood blocks on textiles was known in Europe from the early 14th century but developed little until paper began to be manufactured in France and Germany at the end of the 14th century. In the early 15th century, religious images and playing cards were first made from wood blocks. Black-line woodcut reached its greatest perfection in the 16th century with Albrecht Dürer and his followers. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, artists such as Edvard Munch, Paul Gauguin, and the German Expressionists rediscovered the expressive potential of woodcuts. Woodcuts have played an important role in the history of Japanese art (seeukiyo-e).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on woodcut, visit Britannica.com.