In the 15th century, the first illustrated books – block-books – serve as a model of the closest and most perfect union between the text and the picture, cut on the same side grain block. From the end of the 15th century, almost all illustrated books, starting from the incunabula, are printed using a combination of printing and printmaking. Mainly woodcuts, inside the text, the matrix of which was incorporated in the chase, but also full-page intaglio prints. The two sectors are developing at the same time, with new techniques and new achievements. The images “describe” or accompany narratives, poems, novels, or reinforce mainly scientific texts.
Illustrating a book, the image is considered a work of art when produced from the authentic plate, as this has been the case till the end of the 18th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, stereotype, which is the first mean of reproduction of a form and of a printmaking matrix, is perfected and used for publications the number of which increases more and more. Then the authentic print starts to disappear from the illustrated books. Since, the image reproduction means are multiplied until digital printing. Illustrated book and printmaking went their separate ways. Books illustrated with authentic prints are very few and become objects for collectors.
Adapted into small individual poems (rondeaux) by Benserade, illustrated by the most famous French illustrators and printmakers of the era, especially for the moral education of the Dauphin, printed by the Royal Printing House of Louis XIV of France in 1676, the Metamorphoses by Ovid are an excellent example of the publication of illustrated books with authentic prints. Other than the woodcut, printed above the table of contents of the work, the illustration is composed of 226 etchings – frontispiece, title page, image for each poem, tail piece.
The modern epic The Adventures of Telemachus by French philosopher Fénelon is a masterpiece of illustrated literature of the 18th century. The Dutch luxury edition of 1734 in French, with specially drawn and printed for the edition engravings, serves as a model of the illustrated literature of the 18th century: other than its excellent printing, it stands out for the variety and quality of the prints: woodcuts for decoration (headpieces, historiated initials and tail pieces) and engravings for the frontispiece, the map of Telemachus’ journey, the author’s portrait and 24 narrative engravings, one for each chapter).
In the ambitious endeavour of enlightenment, Denis Diderot and Jean d’Alembert, with the collaboration of specialists, publish (1751-1766) the 17 volumes of the Encyclopedia, based on new values: Tolerance, Nature, Science, Progress and Happiness on Earth. Between 1762 and 1772, 11 volumes are published in folio, which contain 2,569 engravings illustrating the entries. In total, 63 painters and printmakers co-operate for this task under the direction of Louis Jacques Goussier, other than the artists from the past whose works have been used. In Volume II, Part II with over 200 etchings and engravings, there are 25 entries the most important of which, with many pictures, are: Hunting, Chemistry, Surgery and Design.
The frontispiece, which was sent as a donation to subscribers after the publishing of the volumes, represents a complex allegorical scene. Beneath its Ionic Temple, the Truth stands enveloped in a veil and radiating light which parts the clouds and disperses them. Reason and Philosophy raise and tear it away. Theology, kneeling at her feet, receives the light from on high. On the left, there is Imagination and below her the allegories of poetry.
Below poetry there are Music, Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Gathered around Theology there is Memory, History (Modern and Ancient), and right below History who is writing, and Time serves as the support of the book. Below Theology are grouped Geometry, Astronomy, and Physics. The figures below this group represent Optics, Botany, Chemistry, and Agriculture. At the bottom are several Arts and Professions which derive from the Sciences.
French Lithography by Alfred Lemercier is a Bible for lithographers of the beginning of the 20th century since it collects in 1897 the whole knowledge on lithography of that time. The book contains illustrations in the text (with clichés) on technical issues and full-page (with lithographs) for the art works that have been created with the various methods of lithography. There are 33 authentic full-page lithographs, either creations or reproductions of other art works. The whole book contains knowledge on the technique of lithography and deals with lithographic stones, inks, papers, grounds, presses, rollers, lithographic drawing, autographic processes, printer, chromolithography, zincography, photolithography, heliography and factories producing materials and tools.
In 1870 and 1871, Cham (pseudοnym of Amédée de Noé) and Honoré Daumier draw and lithograph for the satirical magazine Le Charivari in Paris 39 black and white lithographs on the Siege of Paris by the Prussian army in 1870-1871. This Russian edition of 1920 contains 9 smaller-scale lithographs by Honoré Daumier.
Although its printing quality is average, the book Cyprus, its ancient cities, tombs and temples by Luigi Palma di Cesnola is a rare book on Cyprus, because it gives an account and studies – without however a great scientific importance – the archaeological excavations and embezzlement of ancient artefacts by Cesnola as US consul in Cyprus (1865-1877). It contains many pictures – clichés from wood engravings – of the antiquities in Cyprus that the Metropolitan Museum bought from Cesnola.
In 1897, the narrative by Émile Deschamps appears in the French magazine Le Tour du Monde, in 6 issues (03/10/17 April and 02/09/16 October 1897). This is about Émile Deschamps’ trip to Cyprus from November 1892 to March 1894. In 72 pages in total with rich illustrated content, he recounts his trip to the monuments, the cities, the coasts and the mountains, giving special emphasis to the Frankish monuments and the history of Cyprus, but also to geography, modern life of the Cypriot people (customs, important holidays, beliefs, economic activity – i.e. mainly the agriculture). It is illustrated with photoengravings in the form of clichés, from pictures and sketches by the author.
The book La maison sans fenêtres by author Maurice Sandoz, is published in 1949 by Pierre Seghers in 2,500 numbered copies and printed on Alfa-Marais paper. This is in octavo format, paper-bound with 116 pages, illustrated with full page reproductions of 7 drawings by Salvador Dali, most probably coloured by the artist himself. The text is first published in 1943 and illustrated in 1946. The Museum’s copy is no 586. The pictures in close dialogue with the fantastic text, take the reader to the surrealistic world of the author and artist.