This post from John Boardley called Inventing Posters is worth every minute of your time. He looks at the history of engraving, drypoint, and etching illustrations:
Just as the printing press brought knowledge and books to the entire world, so printmaking introduced the broader world to art. These days, when we’re permanently immersed in photos and videos, it’s hard to grasp just how important and revolutionary printing and printmaking were. Today, it’s as easy for me to look at a photo of bison painted on cave walls 40,000 years ago as it is to study the minutest details of a fifteenth-century Dürer woodcut, a sixteenth-century Bosch or Bruegel engraving, or a seventeenth-century Rembrandt etching. How lucky we are.
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