English Publishers in the Graphic Arts, 1599-1700: A Study of the Print-sellers & Publishers of Engravings, Art & Architectural Manuals, Maps & Copy-books

English Publishers in the Graphic Arts, 1599-1700: A Study of the Print-sellers & Publishers of Engravings, Art & Architectural Manuals, Maps & Copy-books

English Publishers in the Graphic Arts, 1599-1700: A Study of the Print-sellers & Publishers of Engravings, Art & Architectural Manuals, Maps & Copy-books

English Publishers in the Graphic Arts, 1599-1700: A Study of the Print-sellers & Publishers of Engravings, Art & Architectural Manuals, Maps & Copy-books

Excerpt

The spectacular arbiters of taste like Lorenzo The Magnificent or Louis XIV are favorite subjects for historians, but style may be formed -- or at least propagated -- quite as influentially by that forgotten middleman, the print publisher and dealer. This is what Miss Rostenberg undertakes to show in her study -- with eminent success. She amply demonstrates that in the complex creation of a print, the dealer counts because he distributes the edition to the buyers, and then, measuring their reaction, he slants the style of the next print to be made, a two way interpretation that he could undertake because he himself was often an artist doubling as a business man. His shop sometimes became a sort of club where artists and the public met and exchanged ideas. Once when Sir Henry Wotton, ambassador of James I to Venice, had to be found in a hurry, the messenger sought him first -- and discovered him -- among the print and book stalls, where he had gone as much to talk as to buy.

Yet how rarely we meet this busy central character, the printseller! Thlis study is precious because it introduces us to him -- a hitherto remote person illuminating his work as entrepreneur of the graphic arts in seventeenth-century England. This study is further enlightening because it tells us that you could buy a book on geometry and a glass of brandy for the same price, or be bled for the cost of fifty engravings of architecture. We would like to find out as much about the print trade in Brueghel's Antwerp, about the Roman publishers who sold to noble tourists, about dealers who distributed Titian's wood cuts, about Mariette's vast, varied and intelligent contacts with the art world of the Grand Siècle. Let us hope that this engaging study will beget others to satisfy our curiosity.

A. Hyatt Mayor . . .

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