28 The Decoration and Illustration of Venetian Incunabula
From Hand Illumination to the Design of Woodcuts
The paper summarises the decoration of Venetian incunabula from 1469-1500. In the early 1470s, illuminators experimented with schemes for ‘finishing’ the printed books, decorating the margins and spaces left blank for initials. The high numbers of hand-illuminated volumes indicate that numerous miniaturists must have come to Venice for this work. In the later 1470s and 1480s, incunabula continued to be illuminated, but greater numbers of each edition were printed, so the proportion that were decorated was lower. In the 1490s, miniaturists designed woodcuts that were printed with every copy of an edition. It is urged that historians of the book trade study the evidence provided by the hand-illumination and woodcut decoration of incunabula.
Keywords: Illustration • Venice • Incunabula • Hand-illumination • Trade