Baroque Books

A tale of friend­ship and co-op­er­a­tion

Timeless Travels Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Mu­seum Plantin-More­tus, An­twerp, Bel­gium Show­ing from: 28 Septem­ber 2018 – 6 Jan­uary 2019

There is so much go­ing on in Flan­ders at the mo­ment as part of the Flem­ish Mas­ters pro­gramme and the Rubens In­spires in An­twerp pro­gramme, that you could be for­given for think­ing that you should take up res­i­dence in the area for the next three years.

And for book and art lovers there is a won­der­ful new ex­hi­bi­tion that starts in the Au­tumn. The Plantin-More­tus Mu­seum’s ex­hi­bi­tion Baroque Book De­sign, A tale

of friend­ship and co-op­er­a­tion re­veals the pub­lish­ers’ love for their trade, and how they have mo­ti­vated artists, print­ers and de­sign­ers in the past and present to cre­ate top-qual­ity prod­ucts.

The 16th cen­tury saw the emer­gence of many new types of book. This was due in large part to pub­lish­ers such as the Plantin-More­tus fam­ily. They sought ways of record­ing and ar­rang­ing new knowl­edge and ideas on pa­per. They thought about how texts could be type­set more ef­fec­tively, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween im­age and text, what a ti­tle page is and other ques­tions. This was how the book orig­i­nated largely in the form that we know it to­day.

Balthasar I More­tus (1574 - 1641) took the next ma­jor step in the de­vel­op­ment of book ar­chi­tec­ture: he started us­ing lead­ing artists for book de­signs. He com­mis­sioned Peter Paul Rubens to pro­vide the il­lus­tra­tions for his new prayer books, and Eras­mus Quelli­nus, Karel de Mallery, Peeter de Jode and Abra­ham Van Diepen­beeck also sup­plied Balthasar More­tus with de­signs for ti­tle pages and il­lus­tra­tions.

To­day, pub­lish­ers con­tinue to or­ches­trate the over­haul­ing of book ar­chi­tec­ture. In this ex­hi­bi­tion, the Plantin-More­tus Mu­seum re­veals the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Balthasar More­tus’ ap­proach and a con­tem­po­rary pub­lish­ing project. They also ex­plore how a lead­ing con­tem­po­rary pub­lisher looks at the book and col­lab­o­rates with artists to con­tin­u­ously rein­vent it.

With a lec­ture se­ries, work­shops, and col­lec­tion and work­shop vis­its, the mu­seum will con­vey its pas­sion for books to its vis­i­tors. As Balthasar More­tus once said: "I don’t print for the same price as other print­ers, as Rubens doesn’t paint for the same price as other pain­ters."

Mu­seum Plantin-More­tus

The Plantin-More­tus Mu­seum was the home and work­shop of Christophe Plantin, de­scribed as a vi­sion­ary pub­lisher, busi­ness­man, printer and fam­ily man. He

was the founder of a print­ing dy­nasty that op­er­ated from the same lo­ca­tion for 300 years (the Vri­jdag­markt (Fri­day Mar­ket) in An­twerp) and in 2005 it was des­ig­nated a UNESCO World Her­itage Site.

The mu­seum is home to a wealth of doc­u­ments about Plantin's life, and that of his fam­ily and de­scen­dants. It is also filled with many of the beau­ti­ful books that he printed. Plantin's print­ing com­pany, Of­fiCinA

Plan­tini­ana, was founded in the 16th cen­tury and was re­puted to be one of the finest in Europe. The Plantin la­bel was as­so­ci­ated with print­ing of the high­est qual­ity and his first work was printed in 1555 en­ti­tled La in­sti­tu­tione di una fan­ci­ulla nata no­bi­lente by Ital­ian au­thor Gi0­vanni Michele Bruto with a French trans­la­tion. From 1568-1572 he pub­lished his first mas­ter­piece: an eight-vol­ume, multi-lan­guage Poly­glot Bi­ble with He­brew, Ara­maic, Greek and Syr­iac texts, one of the most com­plex pub­li­ca­tions to be pro­duced and which brought in­ter­na­tional fame to Plantin.

He also se­cured the con­tract to sup­ply re­vised litur­gi­cal works and prayer books for the Catholic Church as well as print­ing the first at­las of Abra­ham Ortelius in 1587. Ortelius was the first per­son to col­lect all the known maps of the world into one book and nearly 40 edi­tions of the at­las were pub­lished in seven lan­guages.

Plantin's son-in-law Jan More­tus took over the busi­ness in 1589 af­ter Plantin's death and con­tin­ued to ex­pand it, and his wealth, along with his de­scen­dants.

In 1876 Ed­ward More­tus sold the com­pany to the city of An­twerp and one year later it be­came a mu­seum. To­day, you can still view the print­ing presses, the type­faces and the beau­ti­ful house that be­longed to the fam­ily.

The ex­hi­bi­tion...re­veals the pub­lish­ers’ love for their trade, and how they have mo­ti­vated artists, print­ers and de­sign­ers in the past and present to cre­ate top-qual­ity prod­ucts

Far left: Type­set­ting in situ at the Plantin-More­tus Mu­seum Left, top to bot­tom: Sketch of the ti­tle page of the Bre­viar­ium Ro­manum, 1614 by Balthasar I More­tus; A room at the Plantin-More­tus Mu­seum; A post­hu­mous paint­ing of Christophe Plantin by Rubens. Above: Rubens's de­sign for the printer's mark for the ti­tle page Of­ficinaPlan­tini­ana of Lip­sius's Opera Om­nia, 1637

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