The Earliest Dated European Woodblock Print

1418 to 1423
St. Christopher woodcut, 1423.

St. Christopher woodcut, 1423.

The earliest dated European form of xylographic or woodblock prints are religious souvenirs known as "helgen." The earliest recorded helgen is a portrait of the Virgin dated 1418 in the Royal Library of Brussels, however, "there is the probability that it is only a copy, made about 1450, of an earlier print now lost, on which the artist retained the date of the original" (Clair, A Chronology of Printing [1969] 7).

The earliest known dated European woodblock print or woodcut is a portrait of St. Christopher dated 1423 preserved in the John Rylands Library, Manchester, England.

Timeline Themes