ISSN 0204–2061. KNYGOTYRA. 2010. 54
X V I – X X a . k n y g ų i r b i b l i o t e k ų i s t o r i j a
BOOK AS AN ART OBJECT IN 16th CENTURY
EUROPE: ON THE BASIS OF 16TH CENTURY
BOOKS IN SLOVENIAN LIBRARIES
National and University Library
Turja ka 1, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
In the 16th century, printed book becomes a unique designed art work. There is almost no distinction of
printed elements in books from the beginning of the 16th century and ones printed in the incunabula pe-
riod as the thinking about book production was still under the influence of the manuscript tradition. But
throughout the 16th century and especially at the end of it, the basic thinking about books changed. The
modified role of books in High Renaissance and Mannerism could be seen as a consequence of social and
technical changes in society on the one hand and as a reason for the newly born and formatting reading
culture on the other. Mass production was at that point primarily introduced to the Western World. In
spite of all transformation that our society has been gone through in these past five centuries, some of
the basic elements of printed books, which were acknowledged already in the period under study, are still
used not only in printed media, but also in other accompanying production. There was a research made
on books printed till 1600. Inserted graphic works which are all illustrations, secondary decoration and
initials, were analyzed. All books embraced by the research are kept in two Slovenian libraries. However,
as Slovenia had almost no printing production of its own in the 16th century, the picture we get from the
research can be regarded as an overview of printing production in Renaissance Europe.
Key words: early prints, High Renaissance, philosophy, aesthetics, illustration, book decoration
In the National and University Library of
Slovenia (further on referred to as NUK),
in ecclesiastical libraries and in some other
Slovenian libraries we keep a large number
of manuscripts, incunabula and books
printed before the end of the 16th century.
Manuscripts and incunabula have already
been analyzed, exhibited and catalogued by
different authors1. The story of 16th century
1 A full codicological description of manuscripts
from different Slovenian monasteries was
prints is quite different. Except for a few at-
tempts to catalogue stocks of smaller libraries
and several thematic researches on protestant
literature2, we still do not have a complete
overview of the whole number of titles
from that period, kept in Slovenia today.
The NUK collection contains around 3000
books printed between 1501 and 1600, but
the number quoted is not exact. We know
that there are 135 titles in the National
Museum in Ljubljana3 and 224 units in the
Franciscan monastery in Novo mesto4.
Just to remind us, in Italy where printing
production was most intensive in Renais-
sance Europe, they have already collected
bibliographical information on all Italian
16th century prints together with biographies
of printers and publishers. The collected
data have been gathered in a catalogue of
given by Golob [18; 19]; Gspan and Badalić
made a catalogue of Slovenian incunabula
; Vignjevič  and Rupert  studied
illustrations in incunabula; Bregač researched
incunabula kept in the Franciscan monastery
in Novo mesto .
Individual studies referring to the material
kept in the National Museum in Ljubljana
were made by Dular ; Simoniti made bib-
liography of philosophical texts and important
studies about humanists in Slovenia [34; 35;
36]; Bahor  researched ecclesiastic libraries;
Rupel , Berčič  and Glavan  studied
protestant prints; some smaller studies were
also made by other authors [23; 40].
Old prints and the cultural background of
Slovene society from the 16th century on were
discussed by Dular .
In the research about printers’ devices, biblio-In the research about printers’ devices, biblio-
graphic data were also given for all 16th cen-
tury prints .
prints presented in and accessible from the
Internet database5. Something similar was
made in German libraries: prints have been
catalogued and are now accessible via the
Internet6. Compared to other European
countries, we still seem to have a lot of work
to do7. For this reason, it has been decided
that data will be systematically collected
and so, approximately four years ago when
I was still working on my doctoral thesis,
a pilot search was carried out in the Fran-
ciscan monastery in Novo mesto in which
bibliographical data, illustrations and deco-
rations and also bindings of 16th-century
books kept in their library were analyzed8.
Results were then used for the formulation
and determination of the basic elements
and categories included in the new Internet
programme compiled in order to collect
general information about 16th-century
prints in Slovenia9. In this programme, a full
codicological description is given for every
5 Information about Italian prints, printers,
titles and authors of texts in the 16th century
can be found on EDIT 16 .
You can find the examples on VD 16 .
Studies about library funds can help us in mea-Studies about library funds can help us in mea-
suring the cultural level of society in a specific
historical period. However, statements can
only be superficial until preserved material is
fully analyzed [35, 58].
A catalogue of all prints kept in the Franciscan
library in Novo mesto is now being prepared
and will be published next year.
With the help of the NUK computer center, a
database was formed,in which every book has its
own ID number with a blank form attached to
it. After the forms are completed, accompanying
pictures of integral parts of books are added.
book, describing not only bibliographical
entities and printing particularities but also
binding structures, materials, marginalia,
proprietorial inscriptions and provenances
of individual books, giving us information
about their owners and readers10.
This programme was afterwards applied
to the stock kept in the NUK, and while
writing this contribution I was hoping to fin-
ish the research in the NUK: unfortunately,
some titles remained still unchecked. Nev-
ertheless, the first results could be obtained,
and they are presented here. As there is not
enough space in one article for exploring all
different aspects of this extensive study, I will
have to limit this contribution to only a few
of them. Therefore, I will only try to present
16th-century imprints from our NUK stock
as art objects in the light of two major philo-
sophical tendencies. However, before we
step into aesthetical theories, just a word or
two about the application of the mentioned
programme to the national library stock and
the results it has given us.
EARLY PRINTS IN THE NUK
As I have already mentioned, there are
around 3000 titles of 16th-century prints in
10 Marginalia are not, of course, the only sources
of evidence for the encounters of readers and
writers, either inside or outside the covers of
individual volumes. They are part of a circuit
of production and consumption involving a
wide range of agents and techniques. But con-
temporary annotations represent an extensive
and still largely untapped archive of informa-
tion about the lives of books and their place
in the intellectual, spiritual, and social lives of
their readers [33, 119–137].
the NUK, bound either as separate books
or gathered in units, only six of which were
found to be printed on the territory today
known as Slovenia (i. e. in Ljubljana). All
six of them came from the same printing-
office11 and have a Protestant connotation.
After closing this first printing-office it
took another hundred years to establish a
new one. But the population living in our
region12 was eager to read; as a result, we
can find in the NUK (and other libraries
in Slovenia) prints from different European
countries (see Chart 1)13 such as Switzerland,
France, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany,
England, Czech Republic and of course from
Italy14. The NUK collection includes two
11 Th e fi rst printing offi ce in Ljubljana and Slo-The first printing office in Ljubljana and Slo-
venia was established by Janž Mandelc, also
Manlius or Mannel. His office was closed by
Catholics, and he was deported from Lju-
bljana. Afterwards he worked in Hungary and
Croatia [4, 42–48].
12 We cannot talk about Slovene nation in the
16th century as it only emerged with its first
political programme later on. Štih points out
that Slovenians were formed through a long
process of historical development, and only
in the 16th century the Slovene name ap-
pears in the native language for the first time
together with some kind of a programme
formed with the Protestant book production
(Trubar) which sees Slovenians as a unit .
About Slovene Protestant book production
see also a text about Reformation in Slovenia
13 Presence of books on some territory shows us
how people responded to new spiritual cur-
rents in their time. Spiritual currents are cru-
cial parts of social cultural image [35, 51].
14 In a document written in 1478 in Slovenia re-In a document written in 1478 in Slovenia re-
gion, a new term for printed book (liber stam-
patus) appeared. The use of an Italian technical
copies of Francis Skaryna’s Malaia podorozh-
naia knizhka – one complete edition and a
fragment of one of the final chapters (NUK
R 19290) .
However, there are noticeable differ-
ences in the numbers of prints from different
countries. Most of them (ca 21%) come from
Switzerland, more specifically Basel. Although
Venice takes the second place at the turn of
the century, it leads by the number of prints
in the first two decades15. Quite impressive
is also the number of Cologne prints (and
Lyon ones) and the ones from Strasbourg.
Exact statistic data for the first half of the
16th century are shown in Chart 2.
Besides Protestant literature16 and theo-
logical texts17, our stock involves a substan-
tial number of philosophical and legal works,
architectural manuals and belles-lettres,
term for this novelty witnesses that early prints
came to us mostly from Italy [35, 58; 5, 46]
15 Altogether there were at least 2894 printers
and publishers in 151 printing cities in Italy
till the end of the 16th century [6, 167–168].
16 There are altogether a little less than 100 Pro-
testant books in the NUK, written by Slovene
authors. The ones written by foreign authors
are not included in this number.
17 Bibles, gospels, etc. present a high percentage
of all printed texts in European production in
the 16th century.
numerous are travelogues and geographical
books containing maps and descriptions
of places throughout the world, including
America – the new world. Quite popular in
those days were also cosmographies, histories
of the Roman Empire, books about mythol-
ogy, etc. This magnitude and diversity of
themes present in 16th-century books are
excellent indicators of a notable reading
culture18 of the time, – not only in countries
with well-developed printing production,
but also in our region19. In this context, the
18 The interests of the educated reader extended
well beyond the needs of the school, and cov-
ered practically all branches of literature culti-
vated by the humanists: their copies, editions,
translations and commentaries of the ancient
classics as well as their treatises on grammar and
rhetoric, their letters, orations and poems that
were often used as models of stylistic imitation,
their works of historiography, and finally their
moral treatises and dialogues [26, 83].
19 Although only a scrap of former libraries sur-
vived till today, the numbers and themes pres-
ent today are still impressive. Many books have
Chart 2. Repartition of book production till the
mid 16th century (the number of books from
each city in the NUK)
Chart 1. European production in the 16th cen-
tury (the first 50 years) (the number of books
steadily increased over the years)
reading public played an important role as it
raised and directed the standards of printing
production and finally regulated the out-
come of the trade by purchasing products
or not. A passage referring to the reader
often appears as a supplement to the text of
a book. Sometimes it is added by the printer,
like, for instance, in the case of a translation
quoted below: “We now print those works
separately, so that you (the reader) can attach
it to whichever volume you judge fit”20.
By publishing this line, Froben issues
an invitation to his reader to construct the
book which best suits his own understand-
ing of the text [22, 168]. For us, this is an
evidence of the importance of market needs
and requirements when the form and design
of prints were in matter, but all together
highly depended on a book’s content. In this
manner, the printing production of the 16th
century can be classified by its final purpose,
or we can say by its potential buyers, in dif-
AESTHETICS IN BOOK PRODUCTION:
CLASSIFICATION OF PRINTS
Expensive vs. inexpensive
A nice passage about printers, the usefulness
of prints, their elegance, importance and ar-
been carried away to Austria, Hungary and so on,
or were burned by the Turks [35, 54]; Dular [10,
224–232] presents to us what citizens of Ljublja-
na in the 17th century could buy and read.
20 A letter entitled “Io. Frob. Typographus can-
dido lectori S.D.”, printed by Froben in the
year 1526 on the verso of the title page of one
of Erasmus texts [22, 168].
tistic value can be found in Vasari’s Delle vite
de piu eccellenti pittori, scultori et architet-
tori first printed in 1550 and afterwards
enlarged and again printed in 156821. For
this contribution, a translation by Gaston
du C. de Vere was used . In the part
about Marc Antonio Bolognese and others
he describes graphic techniques, numerous
printers and their works.22 Afterwards he
“Many others have occupied themselves with
copper-plate engraving who, although they
have not attained such perfection, have none-
theless benefited the world with their labours
by bringing many scenes and other works of
excellent masters into the light of day and thus
giving the means of seeing the various inven-
tions and manners of the painters to those
who are not able to go to the places where the
original works are, and conveying to the ul-
tramontanes a knowledge of many things that
they did not know.” [41, 93–94]
Vasari here emphasizes the importance
of spreading knowledge and new ideas by
bringing it to the public with print produc-
tion (numbers of copies printed). He also
makes a distinction between good and bad
prints and points at the first division of
printing production, which can be made
regarding the quality of imprints. Prints
21 Although Vasari’s text is prejudiced and infl u- Although Vasari’s text is prejudiced and influ-
enced by patriotism for the Florentine munici-
pal state, it is still an interesting source for ana-
lyzing Italian Renaissance art, style and artists.
22 In the fi rst edition, Vasari describes only Flo-In the first edition, Vasari describes only Flo-
rentine artists. Afterwards he prepared addi-
tional texts on artists from Venice and other
can be categorized as those designed for
selected notabilities (of the best quality) and
those for a wider public23. The first ones are
normally highly decorated and illustrated
editions ordered and financially supported
by patrons or wealthy men. In comparison
to them, the others have badly manufactured
types and plates, their decoration is far more
superficial and illustrations seem to be there
just to meet the demands or, even worse, to
fill empty spaces. The reason for this careless-
ness in printing production could probably
be greediness which was the result of time-
consuming activities and material context
[28, 30–32]. Vasari continues:
“And although many plates have been
badly executed through the avarice of the
printers, eager more for gain than for honour,
yet in certain others, besides those that have
been mentioned, there may be seen something
good” [41, 93–94].
Competition and greediness forced
printers to print as much as they could for
low prices24. This trend exceeded the Ital-
23 Vasari already suggested that prints are used by
commons and not only by few selected indi-
viduals [41, 93–94]; an analysis of the struc-
ture of students enrolled at University of Vien-
na showed that in the years 1518–1609 there
were 8% of students from the upper class,
68% of students from the middle class and
24% of ones from the lower class, of which
2/3 presented the poor [35, 127].
24 While the typesetting slowly proceeded on
the monuments of early printing, the same
presses were turning out innumerable broad-
sheets, pamphlets, decrees, edicts, proclama-
tions, prayers, calendars; and a few decades
Figures 1, 2. Initial S; two designs, compari-
son between expensive (Augsburg, 1541; NUK
11024) and inexpensive editions (Loewen,
1558; NUK 892)
ian peninsula and found its new ground in
Protestant printing centers where the num-
ber of copies in one edition did matter, but
for another reason. The main purpose was
to provide a sufficient amount of books to
spread literacy among commons. An era of
mass production began. As influences from
Italy grew stronger, the production, for
example, in Germany25, in some cases com-
pletely imitates Italian samples. It depicts all
new, advanced forms like type characters or
compositions of pages and formats, on the
one hand, and on the other it also takes off
with perfunctory impressions and desul-
tory decoration that appeared as common
practice in Italian production already in its
early stage (see Figures 1, 2).
later, ballads, accounts of battles, festivals, fu-
nerals, lurid stories – these paid the bills [29,
25 Vasari mentions ultramontanes. With this noun
he is referring to German-speaking masters of
art as he also does before and later in the same
text [41, 93–94].
BOOKS FOR SCHOLARS VS. OTHER
A second division of print production was
introduced to reading public together with
the invention of printing and could pro-
bably be seen as one of the consequences of
mass production. The focus in this division
is on the text itself and its contents, which
separates the volumes and readers into two
groups.26 Part of the first group of readers of
books had already been formed previously,
in the manuscript era – these are scholars.
After the invention of printing, this primary
group continues existing and even extends at
26 Th e print revolution was, in fact, a reading rev-The print revolution was, in fact, a reading rev-
olution, a revolution not of technology but of
dissemination and reception. Innovation is in
readers, not publishers: the agent of change is
not the press but its audience [29, 282-0283].
the expense of educated printers, humanists
and philosophers mostly interested in trea-
tises and other pretentious literature. Some
of them took a critical stance in judging
the outcome and helping to produce peak
products by substantial arguments on the
correctness of translations, misspellings and
type errors. Books designed and printed for
and by this first group of readers were nor-
mally little or not at all decorated, their text
was composed of impeccable characters27, so
pages seem clean and neat. Decorative frames
on title pages were normally abandoned.
All unnecessary decorative elements were
left out. In some cases, even the initials are
reduced to a minimum or not used at all.
27 Th e formulation of types in diff erent languag- The formulation of types in different languag-
es is extremely important and judged already
in that time [14, 269].
Figures 3, 4. Two editions of Petrarch; the first example was designed for scholars under the influen-
ce of Platonism (Venice, 1533; NUK 2124/ 7); the second edition, designed with illustrations, is an
example of artistic expression influenced by Aristotelian philosophy (Venice, 1563; NUK 2181/ 6)
The second group of readers consists of
all other people reading lighter texts with
illustrations28. When designing pages for
this sort of literature, printers imitated a
formal design from the manuscript tradition
by using all established forms of decorative
elements as a normal and natural part of a
book as a whole (see Figures 3, 4).
PARALLELS WITH RENAISSANCE
This second division of prints could also
be regarded as an expression of two major
philosophical mainstreams present and dis-
cussed in Renaissance cultural and educated
circles, first in Italy and afterwards also
elsewhere in Europe, i. e. Aristotelian phi-
losophy and Platonism29. And, as printers
were presenting themselves as open-minded
humanists30 who did not only print but also
read, studied, edited and selected texts, it
would not be disputable to think that they
had some knowledge of philosophy as well.
In a letter to Aldus Manutius, written in
1507, Erasmus compared the great printers’
efforts on behalf of classical learning – his
28 Pictures were the literature of the laity (laico- Pictures were the literature of the laity (laico-
rum literatura) [12, 54].
29 Platonism and Aristotelianism became the two
most powerful philosophical influences upon
Renaissance thought [8, 72].
30 Their humanistic beliefs can easily be acknow-
ledged by numerous printing devices filled
with Greek mythology and accompanied with
instructive mottos. Whether they used goddess
Athena with an owl by her side or they decided
to mark their works with ever evasive Fortuna,
the message was still the same .
energetic retrieval and circulation of ancient
texts in Latin and Greek – to the labours of
As Dante is thought to be the beginner
of Renaissance aesthetics and (expression)
theory of art (origin of Renaissance and of
modern art theory) [8, 72] a short remark
should be made on this passage from his
Divine Comedy32. He conceived of art in
Aristotelian terms, as analogous to nature
and natural processes, as a daughter of na-
ture. He says:
E se tu ben la tua Fisica note,
Tu troverai non dopo molte carte
Che l‘arte vostra quella, quanto puote,
Segue, come il maestro fa il discente,
Si che vostr’arte a Dio quasi è nepote.
If you read your Physics carefully
you will find, within a few pages,
that art follows [nature], as the
disciple follows a master;
so that art is like a grandchild of God. 33
Aristotelianism maintained that art has
to start from experience of the sensitive
31 Th e letter written by Erasmus to Aldo was en- The letter written by Erasmus to Aldo was en-
titled Herakleioi ponoi: Whose are the labours?
While Erasmus was working with Froben, he
described himself as a castigator – the term can
mean the mere routine print-shop activity of
proof correction and copyediting, but it can
also extend to a sophisticated intervention in
a text. Further on, he mentions that he has
set up his own officina in the Froben printing
house, through the teamwork of famuli and
castigators [22, 158].
32 Divina Commedia, written between 1308 and
1321; its first printed edition was published in
33 So art comes after nature, and nature is the
work of God. God is therefore a supreme artist
world and from a scientific understanding
based upon observation of empirical data.
As a consequence, art imitates nature and
learns from nature by decoding its internal
processes.34 Art, however, also reproduces
and improves nature [8, 72]. Printing origi-
nated from and succeeded an old tradition
of book production (handwritten codex);
therefore, it probably seemed rather normal
for printers to copy and imitate the elemen-
tal forms of manuscripts as the only suitable
presentation of the written word.
This explains why the majority of printers
were striving to copy a book in its “naturalis-
tic form”. In this respect, all highly decorated
and illustrated books, with “unnecessary”
embellishment comparable to manuscript
traditional book-decoration, could be seen
as examples of the effect the Aristotelian
theories had on Renaissance artists.
On the other hand, expressions of Pla-
tonism can only be seen in fewer examples
designed for contemplative readers. In con-
nection with the arts, Platonism suggested
a theory of manic and erotic inspiration35.
Plato designated happiness as a harmonious
34 In Aristotelian philosophy, art, with its active
creation and by imitating things – mimesis
(m%mhsiV) – is approaching the perfect idea
of a thing. A poet (artist) has to be more of
a maker (poietes) of myths than versus, as the
chief essence of the poet is in imitating (acts)
[1, 27]. On the contrary, Plato is teaching us
that by imitating the i dea of the primary and
only real thing–art (poetics)–we are stepping
away even further [1, 17].
35 Inspiration of love produces a fantasia and
fervor in the artist, which inform his represen-
tations with an eternal, ideal and ultimately
divine beauty [8, 72].
integration of different orders of being at each
moment of life. For him, harmony could
only be achieved by curtailing the rights of
the separate orders: by not permitting art to
proceed beyond the point where it violates
the capacity for orderly thought, and by not
elaborating a system of thought which ex-
ceeds the power of artistic imagination. Plato
teaches us to be suspicious of art – not becau-
se it is bad in itself, but because it endangers
man36. Decoration and illustration filled with
perfect compositions of human bodies, gri-
sailles , Greek goddesses and grotesques
can make our minds easily lose their way. To
avoid such distractions, texts for contempla-
tive reading are better off without it.
Although Aristotelianism prevailed over
Platonism already in the 16th century in a
wider artistic sense, the latter could never-
theless be seen as a considerable intellectual
force, with a strong influence throughout
the 16th century. This influence was based on
individual appeal and was thus even deeper
[8, 100]. Its results in book design may be
seen even today in exact rules for designing
our professional and scientific literature,
where space is left only for necessary and
36 Mimesis is the uncontrolled process of depic-Mimesis is the uncontrolled process of depic-
tion which is neither guided nor interrupted
by reflection but unconsciously takes effect in
the act of imitation or representation, with-
out concern for the nature or value of what
is imitated or represented. Art strengthens our
tendency to yield to domination by irrational
forces and is bound to exercise its most cor-
rupting effect when we not only attend with
sympathy to the artist’s conjuring tricks, but
also adopt them ourselves [44, 8–19].
supplementary illustrations with no room
for artistic expression.
BOOKS AS ART OBJECTS IN 16TH-
CENTURY EUROPE IN THE LIGHT OF
THE RENAISSANCE CLASSIFICATION
In conclusion, we will try to determine
whether books were recognized as art objects
in 16th-century society. For this purpose,
the right meaning of the term art object in
the context of the period under discussion
should also be addressed.
First of all, there was no single word in
Italian or Latin in the 15th and early 16th
centuries that could be unequivocally trans-
lated as “artist”. Practitioners were almost
always precisely defined by their trades:
goldsmiths, woodworkers, and so on [37,
229–230]. We can imagine that printers
were also termed as a class of practitioners37,
but there were some of them (practitioners),
as was a generally accepted view, classified as
artists in the modern concept. On the other
hand, the word artista in Italian Renaissance
was synonymous with the word denoting
craftsmen, used also when referring to paint-
ers38. If we look at the text of Vasari, we can
see he installed printers among painters,
37 This conclusion can be suggested because many
of printers started as goldsmiths who were cat-
egorized as creators with an innate imaginative
talent, e. g. glass-makers [37, 229–230].
38 The word artifice was used in Albertis´ Italian
text in the 16th century. It seems that painters
to Alberti were not different from other ma-
kers – they all made art. The word embraced a
desirable quality of human artifice [37, 231].
sculptors and architects which he meant to
be “piu eccellenti”, i. e. most excellent .
His text represents a sort of an overview
of Renaissance artists39; consecutively his
reference to printers is an eloquent proof of
a relative position printers had in Renais-
Neither was the term art object recognized
in Renaissance Italy. Nevertheless, this was a
period when various attempts were made to
define different forms of production and to
distinguish among them; some were to be
categorized on the same intellectual level as
literature, others were to become essentially
mechanical [37, 229–230]. Perhaps it would
be correct to categorize as art objects only
those items for which individual persons
acknowledged as artists could be identified
as authors40. Such a definition might justify
the distinction between those designing and
those making objects, between, in other
words, artists and artisans. However, this
definition of art objects is too narrow. It was
not always necessary for an object to display
an individual authorial voice to be seen as
exhibiting art, to raise the object above the
luxurious items [37, 231]. It was, above all,
important for known and unknown artists to
follow all the rules required when executing
their works41, so that the completed works
39 In the text we can find Duerer as well, so his
work is not limited only to Italian Renaissance
40 This category would also include the objects
for which a well-known artist had provided the
designs [37, 229–230].
41 Vasari emphasizes the exactness of achieve-Vasari emphasizes the exactness of achieve-
ments by following all the proper rules on nu-
merous places in his text .
would be recognized as excellent, beautiful
In regard to two philosophical main-
streams mentioned above, books can be
recognized as art objects on the basis of two
complexes of components. The presence
of Aristotelianism in Renaissance culture is
nowadays mostly known to us from many
unique masterpieces painted in that time.
Their good or sometimes not so good copies
can be found in book illustrations and in
secondary decorations of books (in bordures,
initials and in frames), on frontispieces or else-
where in books. On the other hand, the purity
and elegance of imprints can also bear witness
of an exceptional aesthetic achievement43.
42 Artifacts are produced for many reasons, but
when aspiration for producing “something
aesthetically valuable, something beautiful” is
the main reason for producing something or
it is even the only reason, we are accustomed
to call the artifacts in question works of art.
The tradition determines that, at least for the
past few centuries, we have reserved the terms
art and work of art for those artifacts whose
aesthetic value is particularly evident or which
were manufactured with their aesthetic value
particularly, or exclusively, in mind, or whose
aesthetic character we choose to emphasize for
historical or cultural reasons [8, 106].
43 Plato speaks of art when referring to music.
According to Plato, the adjective mousikós de-
notes persons who are engaged in some kind of
music art or lyric poetry. Frequently it denotes
a friend of Muses in general and is enraptured
with literature and erudition. If the adjective
is used in reference to things, it denotes their
elegance [25, 1117]. Elegance and beauty of
imprints were noteworthy to Erasmus Desid-
erius as well [14, 269].
In the above text, we have tried to establish a
classification of prints designed and printed
in the 16th century and kept in Slovenian
libraries till today. With this classification
it is easier to recognize the aesthetic value
of early printed books; also, it is possible
to determine whether or not 16th-century
printed books can be seen as works of art,
i. e. as art objects. As is shown in the text,
there are some differences among books in
general. Not all of them fit in the category
of art objects. The classification is based on
the end-user model. In the 16th century,
there were not only readers from privileged
classes, but we can also speak about book
consumption by others. The model supposes
four groups of readers (scholars, laymen,
rich, commons). The ana lysis shows us a
differentiation between books designed for
noblemen and books designed for general
consumption. Normally, the first ones were
products of well-known artists and show a
great artistic expression. These books are also
made by the rules of Aristotelian aesthetic
theories, whereas the second ones are rather
artisans’ products. There are, however, some
completely different books showing us the
beginning of a new book aesthetics based
on Platonism. Books designed in the Pla-
tonic spirit normally contain scientific and
contemplative texts. They were highly ap-
preciated at the time of their first edition, but
today they are valued first of all because of the
accuracy of translation and contents and are
to be categorized as artisans’ products.
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KNYGA KAIP MENO OBJEKTAS XVI A. EUROPOJE (REMIANTIS
SLOVĖNIJOS BIBLIOTEKŲ LEIDINIAIS)
Straipsnyje Slovėnijos nacionalinėje ir universi- traipsnyje Slovėnijos nacionalinėje ir universi-
teto bibliotekoje saugomi XVI a. leidiniai pri-
statomi kaip meno objektai dviejų pagrindinių
filosofijos srovių šviesoje. Bibliotekoje saugoma
apie 3000 XVI a. leidinių. Jie atkeliavo iš skir-
tingų Europos šalių: Šveicarijos, Prancūzijos,
Nyderlandų, Austrijos, Vokietijos žemių, Angli-
jos, Čekijos ir Italijos. Tik šeši iš jų išspausdinti
dabartinės Slovėnijos teritorijoje.
Nors spaudos pramonė XVI a. nebuvo itin
išplėtota, knygų teminė aprėptis ir įvairovė
rodo, kad šiame regione jau tuo metu skaitymo
kultūra buvo aukšta. Skaitančioji visuomenė at-
liko svarbų vaidmenį: kėlė reikalavimus spaudos
produkcijai ir taip reguliavo prekybos rezultatus
(įsigydama spaudos produkcijos arba ne). XVI a.
spausdintą produkciją galima skirstyti į dvi rūšis
pagal tikslą arba pagal jos potencialius pirkėjus.
Spaudiniai buvo kuriami rinktinei aristokratijai
(geriausios kokybės) arba plačiajai auditorijai.
Juos taip pat galima skirstyti į dvi grupes pagal
skaitytojų mokslinį pasirengimą. Pirmajai skai-
tytojų grupei (mokslinčiams) skirti spaudiniai
mažai arba visai nepuošti, jų puslapiai švarūs
ir tvarkingi, be nereikalingų puošybos elemen-
tų. Antrajai skaitytojų grupei (visiems kitiems)
skirti leidiniai imituoja formalų rankraštinės
knygos dizainą. Visokių formų puošybos detalės
naudotos kaip įprasta ir natūrali knygos dalis.
Šią antrąją spaudinių grupę galima traktuo-
ti kaip dviejų pagrindinių Renesanso kultūros
filosofijos srovių – aristotelizmo ir platonizmo –
raišką. Šiuo požiūriu visos gausiai puoštos ir
iliustruotos knygos atspindi Aristotelio meno
teorijas, o nepuošti leidiniai, sukurti intelektua-
liam skaitytojui, – Platono meno teorijas.
Įteikta 2009 m. lapkričio mėn.