Art, Art History and Design, School of


Date of this Version



Published in Art Journal, vol. 39 (1980), pp. 189-194.


Little is known about the workshops of the earliest print masters. The size of these shops, as well as the names and wages of the individuals involved, has often just not come down to us. Furthermore, division of labor varied so widely from shop to shop that the meanings of specific terms denoting the different professions are sometimes unclear. Yet throughout the first 150 years of the history of the woodcut—ca. 1400 to 1550—its greatest period, the division of labor common in workshop production was also standard for the production of woodcuts. That division included the separation of designer, cutter, and sometimes also printer (Fig. 1). Through a discussion of early woodcut production, division of labor, and the woodcut audience, this article will address the problems of the identity of the hands, the nature of the work, and the approaches involved in woodcut production.