Merchants of Print from Venice to Manchester,
29 January to 21 June 2015, John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, UK
This exhibition celebrates the legacy of Aldus Manutius (1449 – 1515), an Italian humanist scholar who founded the Aldine Press at Venice. His publishing legacy includes scholarly editions of classical authors, the introduction of italic type, and the development of books in small formats that were read much like modern paperbacks. The firm was continued after his death by his son and grandson until 1598. John Rylands Library, University of Manchester website, accessed 17 May 2015
Back in February as I enjoyed Oxford’s recognition of the 500th anniversary of the death of Teobaldo Manucci, the Manchester exhibition was already running. Where the Oxford event focused on the more architectural motifs distinguishing early Venetian from Roman printing, the Manchester event dwelt more on the educational thrust, technical and business aspects of the Aldine legacy and provenance of the Manchester collection.
The Manchester focus on provenance wends its way back through the library’s donors dedicated to the cause of education (if not to impressing its practitioners with the importance of the woolen industry’s contribution to it) to the Renaissance circle on which Manutius depended:
In 1482 Manutius lived with Pico della Mirandola and served as tutor to his nephews, the sons of the Princess of Carpi. Like the later, beneficent Manchester merchants, Pico’s family contributed financially to the cause: they funded the opening of the Aldine printing office in Venice in 1494. Of course, Pico made more than a patron’s financial contribution to the cause. Along with Cardinal Bessarion, Marsilio Ficino, Leon Battista Alberti and Erasmus – all known intimately to Manutius – Pico drove the revival of learning embodied in the output of the Aldines and numerous other printers (John Addington Symonds, Renaissance in Italy, Volume 2 (of 7): The Revival of Learning, John Murray, 1914).
The next major Aldine event is the summer school hosted by The Catholic University in Siena (31 August – 3 September) and jointly organized by the Centro di ricerca europeo libro editoria biblioteca (CRELEB). Other events with dates still to be confirmed are planned in Brighton, Treviso, Milan and Arezzo.