Dürer's the Engraver


Bridwell Library also owns several Dürer engravings, a medium in which he became one of the most accomplished practitioners in the history of art. More expensive to create than woodcuts and less conducive to book illustration, engravings were produced by a different method than that used for woodcuts. The engraver incises slender grooves into the smooth surface of a copper plate with a sharp tool called a burin. Then, ink is applied so that it settles into the incised lines while the undisturbed surface is wiped clean. This inked design is transferred to the moistened paper by the pressure of a rolling press. Unlike the cutting of blocks for woodcuts, engraving required such control of the burin that Dürer did not entrust it to assistants; thus, each of his engravings is the direct product of his masterful craftsmanship.