November marks the bicentenary of the death of Italian printer, type designer and typographer Giambattista Bodoni. Museums in Italy have been celebrating Bodoni’s life and work throughout 2013, and typographers and graphic designers throughout the world are using the 200th anniversary of his death to inspire projects and exhibits.
Born in 1740 into a family of printers, Bodoni was hired by the Duke of Parma to establish a royal printing house in 1768. His work at the Stamperia Reale and then at his own printing house, the Officina Bodoni, was well known for the high technical proficiency of the printing and for his dramatic typefaces, which featured hairline serifs in contrast to thick letterforms, mimicking engraving. Bodoni was a famous personality within his own lifetime. His work is still prized today, though the style of his typefaces has fallen in and out of fashion since his death in 1813. Special Collections has a few examples of Bodoni’s work, both in the original and in facsimile. They can be found by searching the library catalog for “Bodoni, Giambattista.” Shown here is a copy of a classical Latin text printed by Bodoni in 1788.