The Painted Printed Book
At the University Library
|Lucius Coelius Firmianus Lactantius: Opera, Subiaco
[Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz], 29 October 1465,
one of three or four books printed at Italy's first press. CUL
The art of illumination experienced its last flowering on the pages
of the first printed books. The large number of books placed on
the market by the new technology presented artists with numerous
job opportunities well into the sixteenth century.
In its early days printing was a risky enterprise, requiring substantial
investment. To appeal to patrons, the early printers produced elaborate
editions on vellum, modelled on deluxe illuminated manuscripts.
Among the most daring and entrepreneurial printers was Nicolas Jenson,
who transformed the new technology into an art. Designing the most
elegant of Roman types, he involved leading artists and wealthy
bibliophiles in the production of the most opulent incunables in
fifteenth-century Venice. Their achievements encapsulate one of
the most glorious moments in this critical, transitional stage in
the history of the book.