13 results
Meditations, or the Contemplations of the Most Devout
Meditationes, seu Contemplationes devotissimae (Meditations, or the contemplations of the most devout) by Cardinal Juan de Torquemada (1388–1468) is thought to be the first Italian book illustrated with a series of woodcut images. The first edition was printed in Rome in 1467 by the German printer Ulrich Han. Presented here is a 1479 edition, printed in Mainz by Johann Neumeister (circa 1440–circa 1512), a German cleric and printer who claimed to have been a student of Johann Gutenberg. The designs of the 33 woodcuts, although considered rough by ...
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Epistles, Gospels, and Popular Readings in the Tuscan Language
This devotional book in Italian ('the language of Tuscany'), published in 1495 by Piero Pacini da Pescia (active, circa 1495-1514), is considered the greatest Florentine illustrated book of the 15th century. It contains 144 large woodcuts, all but eight original to this text, 24 small images of saints and prophets, and a series of 14 different border styles. The large number of images, along with the quality of the designs and execution, make this work a treasure of Florentine design and one of the truly important sources for the study ...
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Curious Designs
Braccelli’s Bizzarie di varie figure contains a suite of 50 etchings that celebrate the human figure in geometric forms. Squares, triangles, circles, and parallelograms take the place of muscle, bone, and tissue, defining the body in a new visual vocabulary. Braccelli’s designs are unique in the history of book illustration. They represent a high point in the Mannerist style of etching that flourished in the 17th century. Mannerism incorporated the techniques of the Renaissance but rejected the classical imagery and harmonious style that is the hallmark of much ...
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The Book of Urizen
The poet and artist William Blake was born in London in 1757. He was apprenticed to an engraver and studied drawing at the Royal Academy. In 1783 he published his first book of poetry, Poetical Sketches. Blake was a religious mystic who eschewed the traditional teaching of the Christian churches to invent his own doctrines and symbols, which he drew from classical and Celtic mythology and many other sources. This printing of The Book of Urizen from the Rosenwald Collection at the Library of Congress introduces a figure, Urizen, whom ...
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Europe, A Prophecy
The English poet, illustrator, and engraver William Blake (1757–1827) first published Europe, A Prophecy in 1794, one year after the appearance of his America, A Prophecy. In both books, Blake attempted to discern the pattern behind human history, and in particular in the momentous events occurring on both sides of Atlantic between the end of the American Revolution in 1783 and the outbreak of war between France and Great Britain in 1793. At first an enthusiast for the French Revolution, Blake saw a world of deprivation and misery emerging ...
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Encyclopedic Manuscript Containing Allegorical and Medical Drawings
In the Middle Ages, medicine was very much intertwined with astrology and other nonscientific superstitions. This manuscript on vellum, produced in southern Germany around 1410, contains pen and ink drawings with explanatory texts in German and Latin. The first drawing shows the earth and seven planets. It is followed by Zodiac-man, a naked man shown with the 12 signs of the zodiac, each relating to a specific part of the body. Next are four bloodletting charts of the human body. Such bleeding charts or calendars were widely used in this ...
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Aesop's Fables
This is the second Augsburg edition of the Fables of Aesop, translated from Latin into German by Heinrich Steinhöwel. It is illustrated with 208 woodcuts, cut in the Augsburg style, which is characterized by thick contour lines outlining the figures, a reliance on white space rather than highly detailed embellishment to decorate the image, and little background or landscape to create perspective. The publishing history of the Fables is extensive. Over 150 separate editions of the work were printed between 1465 and 1501. Little is known of Aesop’s life ...
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Book of Nature
Das Buch der Natur (Book of nature) is a Medieval Latin compendium of science that was edited and translated into German in the 14th century by Konrad von Megenberg, a German scholar and writer who was probably born at Mainberg (Megenberg), near Schweinfurt, Bavaria, in 1309, and died at Ratisbon (Regensburg) in 1374. He studied at Erfurt and then at the University of Paris, where he taught philosophy and theology from 1334 to 1342. In 1342 he moved to Ratisbon, where he was a parish priest and a preacher. Later ...
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A Modern and Quite Precise Depiction of America (or the Fourth Part of the World)
In 1554, Diego Gutiérrez was appointed principal cosmographer to the king of Spain in the Casa de la Contratación. The crown commissioned the Casa to produce a large-scale map of the western hemisphere, often called the “fourth part of the world.” The purpose of the map was to assert Spain’s claims to new world territories against the rival claims of Portugal and France. Spain claimed all lands south of the Tropic of Cancer, which is shown prominently. The map was engraved by the famous Antwerp engraver Hieronymus Cock, who ...
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Book of Hours
The Book of Hours was a prayer book for the laity that developed in late medieval Europe and that was used for private devotion. These works were often personalized for individual patrons and illuminated with miniature paintings depicting the life of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and individual saints. The text included a calendar of liturgical feast days and a series of prayers to be recited eight times a day, according to established practice. By the early Renaissance period the popularity of the Book of Hours demonstrated the growing interest of ...
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Apocalypse of Saint John
This work, printed in Germany in 1470, includes part of the text of the Apocalypse of Saint John, the last book of the Christian Bible, also known as the Book of Revelation. The book is based on letters written to church members in Asia Minor that describe Saint John’s heavenly visions and revelations. It tells the story of the great heavenly warfare between good and evil, Christ’s return to earth, the punishment of the wicked, and the reward of righteousness. This edition of the Apocalypse is a superb ...
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Chronicle of Knights in Armor
This book on the proper mode of conduct for a knight was written in French in around 1410 by Christine de Pisan, Europe's first prolific and respected female author. It was translated into English and printed by William Caxton (1422?-91) in 1489 at the behest of Henry VII, who wished to make it available to English soldiers. The book contained not only rules of conduct, such as how a victorious knight should treat a prisoner of war, but also practical information that Pisan had gleaned from several classical ...
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Christian Doctrine, in Spanish and Tagalog
Published in Manila in 1593, this catechism in Spanish and Tagalog is the first book printed in the Philippines. It is also the first book printed in a Philippine language and the first, and only, 16th-century source showing an explicit and distinctly Philippine abecedarium (alphabet). The book is illustrated with a woodcut frontispiece of St. Dominic and initial letters in both Spanish and Tagalog. Part of the rare book collections of the Library of Congress, it is the only known copy in existence.
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