Thomas Bewick ( 1753 - 1828)

Thomas Bewick ( 1753 – 1828) Thomas Bewick, wood engraver, artist and naturalist, born at Cherryburn House, Ovingham, Northumberland. At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to Ralph Beilby, the owner of an engraving business in Newcastle upon Tyne where was instructed in all the skills necessary to excel in the engraving business,. Beilby soon recognised Bewick’s talent for woodcut engraving. He was set to work on a number of book illustrations, including children’s books such as Tommy Trip’s History of Beasts and Birds, Fables by the late Mr Gay and Select Fables for Thomas Saint, a Newcastle printer.

Bewick’s wood engravings were pioneering in their day because unlike the wood cuts used by his predecessors, which were carved against the grain, he used the end grain of hard box wood. This allowed him to use fine tools normally the same as those used by metal engravers. One of Bewick’s wood blocks Boxwood cut across the end-grain is hard enough for fine engraving, allowing greater detail than in a wood cut.

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