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Modern printing, Hans Holbein, history of printing, Book Illustration, book illustrations

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Printing, name used for several processes by which words, pictures, or designs are reproduced on paper, fabrics, metal, or other suitable materials. These processes, sometimes called the graphic arts, consist essentially of making numerous identical reproductions of an original by mechanical means, and the printed book has thus been called the first mass product.

The history of printing, which by its very nature is the most thoroughly documented of any history, is practically identical with that of relief, or letterpress, printing (printing from a raised surface). Historically, the bulk of all printing has been produced by this entirely mechanical method. Modern printing, however, increasingly relies on photomechanical and chemical processes.

Book Illustration

Painters had hand-illustrated manuscript books for centuries; with the advent of printing, artists cut their designs in wood and metal, enabling Renaissance printers to reproduce pictures as well as text on their presses. Among the notable Renaissance artists who made book illustrations were the Italian Andrea Mantegna and the Germans Albrecht Durer and Hans Holbein the Younger. The widespread reproduction of their works markedly influenced the development of Renaissance art.


Reichl, Ernst, Ph.D.

Late President, Ernst Reichl Associates, Designers. Former Professor of Graphic Design, New York University.

Article key phrases:

Modern printing, Hans Holbein, history of printing, Book Illustration, book illustrations, letterpress, graphic arts, chemical processes, pictures, nature, words, centuries, wood, paper, fabrics, relief, metal, bulk, designs, processes, works

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