Copyright in the Renaissance: Prints and the Privilegio in Sixteenth-Century Venice and Rome


This study examines the emergence and early history of copyright in Venice and Rome, focusing in particular on the privilegio and the use made of it by printers, publishers, engravers, painters, architects, mapmakers, and others in the sixteenth century to protect their commercial interests in various types of printed images. These include separately sold engravings, woodcuts, and etchings, as well as illustrations in books.
The first part of the book surveys printmaking and the privilegio in sixteenth-century Venice and Rome together with the related issues of licensing and censorship. The second part documents many of the recipients who were granted the privilegio.
The book introduces the reader to the richly competitive world of printmaking and print publishing in Renaissance Italy.

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Christopher L.C.E. Witcombe, Ph.D. (1981) in Art History, Bryn Mawr College, is Professor of Art History at Sweet Briar College. He has published extensively on Italian Renaissance painting, prints, and architecture.
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations


1. Printmaking in Sixteenth-Century Italy
2. Copyright in Venice and Rome
3. Proprietorship, Licensing, Censorship
4. Printed Images and Copyright in Venice before 1517

5. Prints Granted Copyright in Venice before 1517
6. Publishers of Prints and Books in Venice after 1517
7. Publishers of Prints and Books in Rome
8. Engravers and Copyright in Venice and Rome
9. Painters and Copyright in Venice and Rome
10. Maps and Geographical Prints
11. Prints and Books on Architecture
12. Writing Manuals and Pattern Books

Appendix A. Handlist of Prints Granted and/or Published with a Privilegio (1498–c. 1605)
Appendix B. Copyright Elsewhere in Italy and Europe

I. Names, Subjects, and Titles
II. Places and Locations
Renaissance art historians and everyone interested in the early history of printing and publishing (prints and books), plus anyone interested in copyright, legal history, Renaissance culture, and European intellectual history.
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