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Woodcut

Woodcut

  • Place of origin:

    London (cut)

  • Date:

    2008 (cut)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Desmet, Anne Julie, born 1964 (woodcutter)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    printing block made of pearwood

  • Museum number:

    E.177-2010

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case V, shelf 28

The invention of printing allowed books and images to become household objects. Both could be reproduced quickly and in large numbers, whereas before this revolutionary technology they could only be drawn, painted or written by hand.

The use of woodblocks to print text had been known in the East since the 8th century. In Europe the technique was first applied to textiles, but shortly after 1400 it was adopted also for images.

Soon, texts too were reproduced by various methods of printing. The final breakthrough came in the 1450s, when Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz produced a Bible using a new method based on moveable type, with individual metal letters and characters.

The artist Anne Desmet was commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum to produce a facsimile woodblock, copied from a French sixteenth century sheet of uncut playing cards in the collection by Gilles Savoure and make prints from the block. The whole process was filmed and can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum's Medieval and Renaissance Galleries.

Physical description

Block of pearwood with inked design on both sides. One side shows the beginning of the cutting process and the other side shows the completed design cut into the wood.

Place of Origin

London (cut)

Date

2008 (cut)

Artist/maker

Desmet, Anne Julie, born 1964 (woodcutter)

Materials and Techniques

printing block made of pearwood

Marks and inscriptions

CHRIS DAUNT BLOCKMAKER
Stamped on the edge of the woodblock in ink

Pearwood
Stamped on the edge of the woodblock in ink

Dimensions

Height: 20 cm block, Width: 22.8 cm block, Depth: 2.2 cm depth of block, Height: 9.6 cm size of image, Width: 11.3 cm size of image, Height: 9.6 cm size of image on reverse, Width: 11.3 cm size of image on reverse, Height: 13.9 cm size of platemark, Width: 15.3 size of platemark

Object history note

In 2006 the printmaker Anne Desmet was commissioned by the V&A's Medieval and Renaissance Gallery team to produce a facsimile woodblock copied from a French sixteenth century sheet of uncut playing cards by Gilles Savouré (E.988-1920) held in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and make prints from the block. The whole process was filmed for a 'How Was it Made' video which can now be seen in the V&A Medieval and Renaissance Galleries.

Descriptive line

Facsimile woodblock of an uncut sheet of 16th century playing cards by Gilles Savouré in the collection, made by Anne Desmet, 2008

Materials

Wood; Ink

Techniques

Woodcut

Subjects depicted

Playing cards

Categories

Prints; Playing cards & Tarot cards; Woodcuts

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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