Simon de Vries’s Discourse on the Chinese Art of Print (1682)
This article explores the ways in which early modern writers and readers related to and reflected on the Chinese invention of print by way of an examination of Simon de Vries’s Curieuse aenmerckingen der bysonderste Oost en West-Indische dingen of 1682. It will consider De Vries in his ternary role of author, compiler and reader, meaning that his account not only displays the economic rules of cultural consumption to which De Vries was bound as author and compiler, but also his own opinions and preferences as reader.
In the guise of writer, editor, and reader De Vries aims to present his potential readership with a thought-out consideration of the wide variety of European sources available on the subject of Chinese print, concentrating on those elements of contention that may speak for or against either Europe or China’s reputation as technological and cultural power. In the end, neither takes pride of place. By arguing for an independent invention of print, De Vries essentially put China on the same level as Europe.
Willa Z. Silverman
The private diaries written between 1898 and 1901 by the French jeweler, art collector, and bibliophile Henri Vever (1854-1942) provide fresh evidence about how important late-nineteenth century esthetic ‘languages’ (japonisme, Symbolism, Art Nouveau) were appropriated by artists committed to renewing the decorative arts; the diaries also address the meaning and status of books. For Vever, his extensive collection of Japanese pattern albums served, above all, a utilitarian function, as design primers and sources of information about printing and engraving techniques for craft modernizers. At the same time, included in the physical space of his ‘Japanese library’ and in line with Symbolist esthetics, Japanese books were, to Vever, suggestive bibelots, whose evocative powers were enhanced through inclusion in harmonious decors. Vever’s experiments in Art Nouveau book design, finally, reveal his additional conception of the book as both surface to be decorated and space of artistic collaboration underscoring the equality of all arts.
Esperanza Alfonso and Javier del Barco
The authors report on the existence of three hitherto unknown copies of Hebrew incunabula printed in Soncino, provide a full description and discussion of a copy of an incunabulum from Leiria, and fragments of an incunabulum from Híjar, which they had previously identified, and offer an updated list of all the Hebrew incunabula extant in Spanish libraries and archives.