31 OCTOBER 1947, Page 28

Woodcut : Wood Engraving. By Imre Reiner. (Swiss Publishing C

Distributed by Publix Swiss Book Depot. 30s.)

THE introduction to this handsome book is entitled A Contribu- tion to the History of the Art. The translator, whose heavy hand is in evidence elsewhere, has here somewhat misinterpreted the author's intention, which is simply to provide students with a collection of facts and samples for general use. This he does well, with an enthusiasm and a catholicity of taste which are not common in this country. It is, in fact, something of a disappointment that his historical summary follows what are for us well-recognised lines, although such a just estimate of the importance of Bewick may be less common abroad, for just outside them lie issues of interest with which he would seem well qualified to deal. The relation of the woodcut to the evolution of typographic design and, more urgent, the precise nature of the change which the disappearance of- its reproductive function has brought about are both issues that still await discussion. Concerning the latter, this book provides interesting material in its reproductions of a very much wider range of specimens by contemporary German artists than has hitherto been available in England. Only they, perhaps, have fully realised that woodcut and wood engraving, are now in essence autographic media. As a result, their work is largely free from the preciousness which, in recent years, has pursued it elsewhere. This book will be a useful addition to the equipment of any school of art.