RBS 2005 Illustration Course Offerings
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RBS 2005 Course Offerings in Illustration and Printing Processes

Rare Book School offers (as I-10) an Introduction to the History of Illustration. Another introductory course is Terry Belanger's Book Illustration Processes to 1890 (I-20), a hands-on course which, however, assumes no artistic ability whatever on the part of its students. Lithography: The Popularization of Printing in the c19 (I-70) and Sandy Kita's Japanese Printmaking, 1615-1868 (I-80) have no prerequisites beyond an interest in the subjects covered. Another RBS course that deals with book illustration is Johanna Drucker's Artists' Books: Strategies for Collecting (C-80).

I-10. Introduction to the History of Illustration
Erin C. Blake

This introduction to printed book illustration from the c15 to the present day will combine a chronological overview with surveys of selected genres such as children's books, science, history, and fiction. The course will center on illustrations in typical publications, concentrating on the results of changing technology and changing reader expectations rather than aesthetics, although private press books and major artists will also be touched on. The focus of the course will be on English, French, and American materials, though book illustration in other Western countries will also be discussed. The course will rely on original examples from the extensive RBS collections, supplemented by materials from UVa Special Collections and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

In their personal statements, applicants should describe their background (formal and/or informal) in the topic, and their reasons for wishing to take the course at this time.

New course.

I-20. Book Illustration Processes to 1900
Terry Belanger

The identification of illustration processes and techniques, including (but not only) woodcut, etching, engraving, stipple, aquatint, mezzotint, lithography, wood engraving, steel engraving, process line and halftone relief, collotype, photogravure, and color printing. The course will be taught almost entirely from the extensive Rare Book School files of examples of illustration processes. The January version of the course, which will be based at the Grolier Club on East 60th Street in New York City, will also make use of the Club’s strong illustration collections.

Almost the sole medium of instruction in this course will be actual examples of original prints drawn from the RBS and Grolier collections, most of the former divided into individual packets (one for each two students) all from the same (or a very similar) source. The students in the course will study the packets under close supervision, using 8X loupes and 30X microscopes (both provided), as necessary.

The NY version of “Book Illustration Processes to 1900” will differ from the Charlottesville version in that it will omit the laboratory sessions (in which students make relief cuts, etchings, and drypoints), providing more time for examining prints. The NY version of the course pre-supposes a basic knowledge of print identification techniques; students who have already taken the course in Charlottesville (especially if they have not done recently) are welcome to apply for admission to the NY version, which will rely heavily on RBS prints and printing surfaces acquired within the past several years.

In their personal statement, prospective applicants should describe the extent of their formal and/or informal background in the field.

Terry Belanger and Joan Friedman taught this course four times between 1983 and 1987; TB has taught the course at least once annually since 1988.

  • Preliminary Reading List
  • Evaluations for this course:

I-30. Seminar in Book Illustration Processes
Terry Belanger

This seminar provides those who have already taken Book Illustration Processes to 1890 (I-20) with a further opportunity to work with files and packets containing original illustrations (the basic course uses only about a quarter of the school’s 400 illustration packets), and to look at some of the notable illustrated books in the UVa and RBS collections. The seminar will concentrate on book illustration between 1770 and 1914, though there will also be discussion of framing prints, ephemera, and maps, and some mention of earlier prints. More time will be spent on the historical contexts in which illustrations are produced than was the case with the basic course, but the focus of the seminar will nevertheless be more on identification techniques than on the aesthetic or social aspects of book illustration.

In their personal statement, applicants should report on their experiences in looking at prints since they took the basic course, and they are encouraged to list topics that they would particularly like this seminar to address.

Terry Belanger teaches this course for the first time in 2004.

  • Evaluations for this course:

I-70. Lithography: The Popularization of Printing in the c19
Instructor to be announced.

Aimed at those concerned with books, prints, and ephemera, especially of the first two-thirds of the c19. Topics: Senefelder and the discovery of lithography; lithographic stones and presses; the work of the lithographic draftsman, letterer, and printer; the trade; early lithographed books and other printing; the development of particular genres, including music printing; chromolithography.

This course aims to approach the subject from several different directions and to bridge traditional boundaries between printing history, bibliography, the history of printmaking, design history, and ephemera studies.

Sessions will focus on the first half of the c19. They will cover: the invention of lithography; equipment and materials; some early treatises on the process; pictorial prints; lithographed books, music, and ephemera; the spread of the trade in Europe; and the relationship of lithography to color printing generally. Also included will be discussion of: the graphic characteristics of lithography; the development of the process; pictures and letterforms; some leading figures; and questions associated with identifying, describing, and studying lithographed items.

Each topic will be introduced by an illustrated lecture or less formal talk. In all sessions, however, the aim is to be as interactive as the situation and size of class permits. There will be plenty of time for discussion and, wherever possible, items from the University of Virginia Library will be made available to provide an opportunity for an element of connoisseurship. It is hoped that a practical demonstration of lithography will be arranged.

The course makes no specific requirements of participants, although some understanding of how lithography works and of the history of graphic images and printing processes is desirable. In their personal statement, applicants should give an indication of their background and interest in the field.

Instructor to be announced.

I-80. Japanese Printmaking, 1615-1868
Sandy Kita

A survey of Ukiyo-e, the art of the Japanese woodblock print. Ukiyo-e literally means "floating art world," and it is through an exploration of the Floating World that produced this art that we come to understand it. The course considers how the Floating World developed in the c17 out of the earlier court culture, how it created an interest in the courtesans, actors, and famous places of Japan that became the chief subject-matter of c17-c19 printmakers, and how it declined and changed in the late c19. The course will take advantage of the extensive collection of Japanese prints owned by the University of Virginia Art Museum.

This course will cover the development of the art of the Japanese woodblock print, via lectures and through the study of the prints themselves. Lectures will introduce the major genres of Ukiyo-e, including images of women, actors, and landscapes. The resources of the University of Virginia Art Museum provide an opportunity to examine works of Ukiyo-e at first hand and to apply the techniques of connoisseurship by which dating and authenticity can be determined. Topics include: the world of courtly arts in Kyoto, Osaka, and Sakai out of which the commoner aesthetic of Edo developed; the emergence of the tradition of printmaking and painting in Edo that we call Ukiyo-e; the development of Ukiyo-e itself.

The course is aimed at relative beginners. It seeks to provide both independent collectors and dealers, and professional rare book librarians and print curators, with a basic knowledge of the development of the art of the Japanese woodblock print and exposure to the main types of Ukiyo-e that they are likely to encounter in their collecting or work. No knowledge of the Japanese language is required or expected of those attending the course.

In their personal statement, prospective students should describe the nature of their interest in Japanese woodblock prints.

Sandy Kita has taught this course at RBS almost annually since 1998.

I-85. Japanese Illustrated Books, 1615-1858
Ellis Tinios

Commercial publishing flourished in Japan in the Tokugawa period (1615-1868). Book illustration came into its own in Japan by the closing decades of the c17. At first, the illustrations were printed in black only; color printing from multiple blocks was fully mastered by 1760. Thereafter color was commonly used in book production, although books with line only illustrations continued to be produced in large numbers to the end of the period. The success of these book illustrations depended upon the close collaboration of artists, copyists, blockcutters and printers under the supervision of publishers responsive to the demands of the market.This course provides an introduction to illustrated books and prints produced in Japan, 1615-1868. Topics to be covered include: overview of the history of the period; the physical characteristics of Japanese books and their modes of production and distribution (publishers, booksellers & book-lenders, readers, marketing); the major categories of Japanese illustrated books (painting manuals, copy books, picture books without words, poetry anthologies, novels, topographical studies, botanical surveys, erotica); books illustrated by artists of the Ukiyo-e, Nanga, Kanô and Maruyama-Shijô schools; the impact of imported Chinese books on Japanese book production; the development of single-sheet woodblock prints in the context of the history of the Japanese illustrated book; issues related to conserving, cataloging, and describing Japanese books.

The course will combine daily lectures and discussions with hands-on sessions in which the class will have the opportunity to examine both books and prints. In their personal statement, students should describe any previous background they have had in the field; no previous knowledge of Japanese art or history is expected of those who apply for admission to this course.

Please note that this five-day course will be conducted in Washington, DC, at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Library, Smithsonian Institution Libraries, and not at the University of Virginia.

Ellis Tinios teaches this course for the first time in 2004.

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