By Design: Text, Ornament, and Illustration in 16th-Century Books

December 2010 through March 2011

Drawing on holdings of 16th-century books in Special Collections, this exhibit explored both the stability and vitality of book design after the first half-century of printing with movable type in the Latin West. Displaying examples from alchemy and armory to theology and travel, from biblical scholarship and birds to prognostication and physicke, the exhibit highlighted strengths in the Albert, Duveen, Fry, Reeder, Tank, and Thordarson collections, among others, and suggested the many ways in which authors, editors, printers, and publishers organized, illustrated, and ornamented texts. A checklist is available.

Because early printed books both drew upon manuscript traditions and expanded upon them, By Design was intended to complement Hidden Treasures: Illuminated Manuscripts from Midwestern Collections, an exhibition curated by Maria Saffiotti Dale in the Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin–Madison.