Wood engraving is a relief process developed in England in the late eighteenth century. In this variation from a woodcut, the end-grain wood is carved, rather than the plank side. These were cut with a burin, which allowed for finer lines than was possible with a woodcut, and the strong wood blocks could be printed under high pressure. It was therefore eminently suitable for illustrating books, magazines, and newspapers.
The pictorial effects visible in Lepère’s wood engravings are the result of a density of line and fine detail that provide subtle tonal shifts from darkness to light. The smoothness of the tissue-thin paper captures every minute stroke. The delicacy of execution achieved here explains why this is one of Lepère’s most famous prints.