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Look Inside Christopher Plantin and Engraved Book Illustrations in Sixteenth-Century Europe

Christopher Plantin and Engraved Book Illustrations in Sixteenth-Century Europe

  • Date Published: April 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521852760


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About the Authors
  • This is an interdisciplinary study of Christopher Plantin's pioneering role in the production and distribution of books with engraved and etched illustrations in sixteenth-century Europe. Using the rich archival sources at the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Belgium, Karen Bowen and Dirk Imhof examine the artists that worked on these illustrations, the types of illustrations that appealed to specific markets, and the technological, cultural and economic constraints under which Christopher Plantin operated as he ventured into this new area of publishing. They demonstrate how Plantin's innovations led to a revolutionary change in taste for book illustrations and place his work within the broader context of the European book trade of the late sixteenth-century and Antwerp's political, economic, cultural and religious history. This is a major contribution to the history of the book, art history and the economic and social history of early modern Europe.

    • The first detailed study of Plantin's role as a pioneer in book illustration
    • Extensively illustrated with over a hundred examples of the engraved and etched illustrations from books produced by Plantin
    • A major contribution to the history of the book and art history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This study constitutes an impressive achievement by Bowen and Imhof. Thanks to their phenomenal knowledge of the Plantin archives, they have been able to provide an in-depth analysis of the use of copper plates for book illustrations at the Plantin Press in the second half of the sixteenth century. Even more important, however, are the general conclusions that they are able to draw concerning the production of illustrated books in the early modern period. The successful production of books with intaglio prints was only possible when the publisher worked with a sophisticated and flexible long-term strategy involving such considerations as commercial factors, costs and practical considerations of production, demand for the edition in diverse markets, and the potential reuse of the plates. The authors rightly argue that this throws new light on the production of illustrated books in the early modern period.' Translation from De Gulden Passer

    'Christopher Plantin and Engraved Book Illustrations in Sixteenth-Century Europe is an extraordinarily well researched, well written and surprisingly personable book. The text draws together threads from a wide sphere of Renaissance history, as well as dispelling commonly held myths and providing new revelations through detailed analysis of the Plantin archive.' Rare Books and Special Collections Group of CLIP newsletter

    'This is an extremely well-researched and illuminating study of one aspect of the production of Christopher Plantin. … The authors both have a mastery of the archives … and of the problems of intaglio print production … and I have unbounded admiration for the way in which they have analysed the data and teased information out of very difficult material.' The Library

    'This book makes an important contribution to Plantiniana studies, and its interdisciplinary approach should be a model for research on other book publishers.' Print Quarterly

    'Bowen and Imhof have produced a distinguished study, demonstrating a keen grasp of the technicalities of production, the logistical difficulties of coordinating a new industry, and Plantin's gift for finding and creating new markets for a new product.' Historians of Netherlandish Art Review of Books

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2008
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521852760
    • length: 474 pages
    • dimensions: 252 x 195 x 30 mm
    • weight: 1.19kg
    • contains: 114 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: precedents for Plantin's work
    1. Printing with intaglio illustrations
    2. 'L'excellente, and fameuse Cité d'Anvers': Antwerp and its artists
    3. Plantin's first projects with engravings (1559–1571)
    4. Liturgical editions and the spread of engraved book illustrations
    5. The 1580s and Plantin's etched book illustrations
    6. Plantin prints for others' editions with intaglios.

  • Authors

    Karen L. Bowen
    Karen L. Bowen is an independent scholar and lecturer on book illustration.

    Dirk Imhof, Plantin-Moretus Museum, Antwerp
    Dirk Imhof is the curator of rare books and archives at the Plantin-Moretus Museum of Antwerp.

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