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Rare Book School at the University of Virginia

Rare Book School
Preliminary Reading List

Introduction to the History of Illustration

Erin Blake


Preliminary Advices

Required Reading

Start by reading:

William M. Ivins, Jr., How Prints Look. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1987.) Read from cover to cover, including the “Notes on a few points of interest” in the back. Prefer the 1987 revised edition (better image quality and a more logical order, though the added examples all concern modern fine-art prints, not prints used in books).

Next, read:

Antony Griffiths, Prints and Printmaking (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996.) Skip the parts that concern only “art” prints if you like (i.e. start reading at p. 13, and skip pp. 64–76, 106–112). Note the handy list of abbreviations and glossary at the end, starting on p. 134.

Lastly, read the sections headed “Decoration and Illustration” and “Processes of Reproduction” in:

Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography, (New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, 1995.) That is to say, pp. 154–59 and 266–73 of the 1995 paperback edition.

Avoid Bamber Gascoigne’s How to Identify Prints for the purposes of this course. It is a fantastic reference resource, but skimming its relentless bounty without a particular print to identify is a disquieting experience. The examples in Ivins and Griffiths are more than enough, and Gascoigne’s timelines aren’t always accurate.