By the late fifteenth century, Venice was an active centre and dominant force in the international book market. The city printed and distributed more volumes than any other Italian city. Most notably, many classics, a number of devotional texts, and a plethora of treatises ranging in subject from anatomy to architecture, were elaborately illustrated there for the first time.
Our current foyer display highlights some of the findings of a recent major collaborative research project on Venetian Renaissance prints, drawings and illustrated books in Scottish collections (funded by The Royal Society of Edinburgh, Research Workshops in the Arts and Humanitie). Venetian books from our Hunterian and Stirling Maxwell collections were identified and surveyed for the project. Among the more than 600 sixteenth-to seventeenth-century Venetian books individually examined, roughly 30 percent were found to be illustrated. On display are a selection of books showcasing the more peculiar items – in subject and design – uncovered: a curious book of fortune telling, a woodcut attributed to Titian, one of the earliest books on Egyptology, and an engraving of a lavish 17th century regatta along Venice’s Grand Canal.
Display curated by Rose Z. King, former History of Art postgraduate work placement and Special Collections voluntary intern.