"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

18 April 2021


John Robinson traces the development of transitional serif letterforms and the impact of the Baskerville typefaces ...
By the early 1500s Paris had supplanted Venice as the epicenter of typographic arts, and the more precisely cut letterforms of Francesco Griffo were gaining in popularity on traditional old-style letterforms: Those influenced by the quill and cut in the spirit of the first roman typefaces developed in the 1470s by Nicolas Jenson’s workshop. 
Further style modifications took place in the 1600s under Claude Garamond and his contemporaries, well into the heyday of Englishman William Caslon (mid-1700s) when the old-style letterform reached its final development. But the first conscious revision of type took place at the end of the seventeenth century when Philippe Grandjean cut the Romain du Roi typeface — a conception of letterforms that perfectly reflected the new attitude of the Age of Enlightenment.
While previous roman typefaces developed naturally over time, with each subsequent punch cutter modifying and improving upon letterforms designed by those before him, the Romain du Roi (the King’s Roman) was the first based on a rational, mathematical design. Mapping the letters out on grids converted traditionally round letterforms to a perpendicular axis; while serifs became sharper, less rounded, and exhibited less bracketing (the “filled in” area that connects serifs with strokes).

Dr. Caroline Archer-Parré presents John Baskerville: The lasting legacy of Birmingham's famous printer ...

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