Skip to main content
Grolier Club Exhibitions

Examples of Illustration

Book of Hours

5.08 Pigouchet.jpg
Heures a lusaige de Paris. — Paris: [Pierre Pigouchet] for Symon Vostre, 1500.

Printed books of hours follow very closely the conventions of hand-written specimens, and indeed, printed and manuscript versions co-existed for some time. In this example, published in 1500 by Simon Vostre (d. 1522?) with the assistance of printer and engraver Phillippe Pigouchet (fl. 1488–1526), the letterforms, text layout, metal-cut borders, and illustrations are all modeled on those in contemporary hand-painted examples.  

Gift of George A. Bruce and David Wolfe Bruce, 1894.

Albrecht Dürer

5.09 Durer.jpg

Dürer, Albrecht.

Etliche underricht zu befestigung der Stett, Schloss, und Flecken. [2nd issue]. — [Nuremberg: Al-brecht Dürer, 1527].

Painter, woodcut artist, engraver, printer and publisher, Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) is a figure much revered in the Grolier Club. Among the Club’s collection of woodcut illustrated books is Dürer’s Etliche under-richt zu Befestigung der Stett, Schloss, und Flecken, in which he summarizes and illustrates the science of fortification.  

Gift of George A. Bruce and David Wolfe Bruce, 1894.

Marco Pitteri

5.10 Pasquali engraved book.jpg
Beatae Mariae Virginis officium. — Venice: J. B. Pasquali, 1740.

This eighteenth-century devotional work, utterly ordinary in content, is still quite a remarkable object.  It is not printed from moveable types, but is engraved throughout, the text by Angela Baroni (fl. 1740), the illustrations (two of which are shown here) by Marco Pitteri (1702–1786); moreover, the Grolier Club copy is in loose sheets, just as it came from the rolling press, retaining its trim marks, crude sheet numeration, and other aids to the binder. It is at once a beautiful example of engraved illustration, an unusual and interesting use of engraved text, and a valuable specimen of format and structure in bookmaking. 

Utagawa Kuniyoshi

5.35 Kuniyoshi.jpg
Chinese Warriors, ca. 1840.

Ink and light color on paper, signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga and sealed.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798–1861) was one of the last and best-known Japanese print-makers working in the traditional ukiyo-e style. He specialized in color woodblock prints depicting scenes from the Chinese “Water Margin,” tales which enjoyed great popularity in Japan in the early nineteenth century.  Like most woodblock printmakers, Kuniyoshi was also a painter, but only a handful of his paintings survive.  This superb sketch of two Chinese warriors locked in battle is a rare exception. The painting was the gift of a Japanese print collector and entrepreneur Shugio Hiromichi (1853–1927), who had been elected to the Club within a few months of its founding in 1884 on the strength of his expertise in the field of Japanese woodblock prints and illustrated books.  He lectured at the Club on Japanese books and printing in May 1887, and in 1889 he mounted a major Grolier exhibition of ukiyo-e, the first in the city, mostly drawn from his own collection. 

Gift of Shugio Hiromichi.

Oliver Byrne

5.11 Pickering Euclid.jpg
The first six books of the elements of Euclid …. — London: William Pickering, 1847.

This extraordinary edition of Euclid is the work of an obscure mathematician named Oliver Byrne, who believed that children could learn geometry more easily if the theorems and proofs were presented as shapes and colors. It is not only a landmark of Victorian color printing, but also an example of changing aesthetic values in the graphic arts. We continue to be intrigued by Byrne’s Euclid today in part because the dazzling primary colors and intricate diagrams foreshadow the abstract paintings of twentieth-century artists such as Mondrian.

Purchased in 1987.

Felix Bracquemond

5.30 Braquemond.jpg

Bracquemond, Felix.

Edmond de Goncourt, 1882.


This portrait of the French artist, novelist and book collector Edmond de Goncourt (1822–1896) is Bracquemond’s most famous print, and a masterpiece of etching. In the foreground is a portfolio of prints by Jules de Goncourt, brother of Edmond; in the back-ground at upper left can be seen a relief by the French sculptor Clodion (1738–1814).  The Club copy is the eighth state of eight, one of an edition of 150. It is signed and dedicated by Goncourt to Theodore Child (1846–1892), an English journalist and art critic. It was presented to the Club in 1893 by member George A. Lucas (1824–1909), a noted art agent in Paris.

Gift of George A. Lucas, 1893.

Edwin Davis French

5.17 Iconophiles.jpg

French, Edwin Davis.

The National Academy of Design.  — New York: The Society of Iconophiles, November 1896 ([Series I], “Twelve Views of New York engraved on copper,” Publication No. 9).

Between 1895 and 1930 the Society of Iconophiles commissioned from some of the finest artists and engravers of the day a total of 119 prints in seventeen series, all relating to the history of New York and dedicated to the preservation of the monuments and buildings that had helped to define the city. Founded by Grolier Club member William Loring Andrews (1837–1920), the Society met at the Club from 1921 until its demise in 1931, and the Club retains the Society’s very full and interesting archives. Shown are steps in the evolution of a single print from concept to publication: 1) a photograph of Peter B. Wight’s Venetian Gothic National Academy of Design (now demolished), tinted and with additions by French; 2) an ink and wash sketch of the building; 3) the engraved copper printing plate (the ‘x’ reflects the fact that the plate was cancelled and defaced after publication); 4) an early state of the impression, with penciled additions and corrections by French; 5) a proof before letters of the published print, signed by the artist.  

Rudolf Koch & Fritz Kredel

5.23 Koch Blumenbuch.jpg
Das Blumenbuch. — Leipzig: Insel-Verlag, 1929–1930.

Arguably the greatest illustrated book produced by the German modern fine press movement, the drawings by Rudolf Koch (1876–1934), skillfully rendered in woodcut by Fritz Kredel (1900–1973), and hand-colored by Emil Wöllner. This apparently unique copy has the sheets of the three-volume trade edition bound as one volume in the limited edition binding of full vellum with elaborate flower paintings by the illustrator Willi Harwerth. 

5.31 Bottini.jpg

Bottini, George.

Print shop of Edmond Sagot, Paris, 1898. 

Color lithograph proof. 

A view of the shop of Parisian printseller Edmond Sagot, signed by the artist, George Bottini (1874–1907). It is one of a large collection of trade cards and other ephemera relating to the book and graphic arts in France, donated to the Club by French ship lithograph by Samuel Putnam Avery and Edward G. Kennedy.

Claire Van Vliet

5.37 Janus Press.jpg

Finney, C. G.

The circus of Doctor Lao. — West Burke, VT: Janus Press, 1984.

Printed on handmade paper in an edition of 150 copies, the Janus Press of The Circus of Dr. Lao is a masterful juxtaposition of text and image. Claire Van Vliet (b. 1933), proprietor of the Janus Press since 1955, illustrated the book with a combination of relief etchings and pochoir using black, sienna and ochre inks to render the dazzling and often disturbing  images.