This is the story of the illustrated book, from the earliest printed examples to the present day, told through the outstanding collections of the National Art Library (NAL) at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Throughout history, images have been used to reflect the meaning of words and to enhance our understanding of texts. This volume demonstrates the development of illustrated books through a unique selection made by specialists at the NAL. Gathered here are some of the most influential, compelling, and striking examples of the illustrated book, arranged thematically in chapters discussing, among other subjects, art history, architecture, and fashion.
Each chapter starts with an introductory overview of the subject, followed by key examples accompanied by insightful narrative captions. Beyond the illustrations themselves, the narratives also consider the whole book, from its design, typeface, binding, inks, and papers.
From beautiful Psalters and Books of Hours, to striking natural history books such as Audubon’s Birds of America, La Fontaine’s Fables illustrated by Marc Chagall, Serlio’s treatise on architecture, and Owen Jones’s Grammar of Ornament, this collection offers a fascinating overview of some of the finest illustrated books ever created—demonstrating the enduring appeal of the illustrated book.
Julius Bryant is Keeper Emeritus of Word and Image at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.