Written in the early 14th century, Dante Alighieri's epic poem the 'Divine comedy' was published in many editions over hundreds of years.
Comparing one of the earliest printed volumes with one from a 20th century private press, the stylistic influence of Renaissance printing houses is clear.
First illustrated edition of the 'Divine comedy', 1481
Published in Florence in 1481, this illustrated version contains copperplate engravings attributed to Baldini (approximately 1436-1487) from designs by Botticelli (approximately 1444-1510).
The works of Dante, 1909
The setting of the 'Divine comedy' within the Ashendene Press edition of Dante's works shows many similarities with the 1481 printing:
- Large coloured initials
- Generous margins
- Beautiful engravings of Dante and Virgil.
Greatly influenced by early printing methods, this 1909 volume incorporated a roman type modelled on that used in the earliest printing press in Italy.
These books featured in our display, 'The book beautiful', at the Library from 26 November 2015 until 13 March 2016.