California State Library’s new exhibit,
"Illumination and Color Printing in the
Victorian Era," in the marble foyer of
Library and Courts II in Sacramento shows some of
the most beautiful books owned by the California
State Library (CSL). Gary Kurutz, director of
Special Collections, designed and curated the
the mid-19th century, artists and printers colored
book illustrations and plates by hand. As the
Victorian Age unfolded, craftsmen turned to
chromolithography, a printing technique that uses
a stone for each color (the exhibit features
Matthew Digby Wyatt's Industrial Arts of the
Nineteenth Century [1851-53] which required
1,065 stones and 1,350,500 press pulls for its 160
plates). Chromolithography allowed Victorian
artists and printers to promote medievalism, the
glorious artistic tradition that inspired them.
The stunning gold-leafed manuscripts on display
demonstrate the melding of classic gothic richness
with meticulous Victorian craftsmanship. The
exhibit books’ bindings, pages and spines, also
in emulation of the medieval, look like carved oak
boards, though they are bound in papier-mâché
and molded leather.
and Color Printing in the Victorian
in foyer of Library.
and Grape Vines of California (1887)
the items in the CSL exhibit take the visitor’s
breath away, but some are of particular
significance. Grapes and Grape Vines of
California (1887), with its ten spectacular
chromolithographs of grape clusters, for example,
is arguably the most sophisticated book produced
in 19th century California. The glorious facsimile
of the Book of Hours commissioned by Anne
of Brittany is the most
elegant of all French color plate books (1861).
And several gorgeous examples by the Englishmen,
Henry Noels Humphreys and Owen Jones, including The
Victoria Psalter (1862) and Sermon of the
Mount (1861), rank among the most famous
neo-Gothic examples of color printing.
and Color Printing in the Victorian Era,"
will run through April 2006 on the second floor
foyer of the California State Library, Library
and Courts II, 900 N Street, Sacramento.
Hours are 9 AM to 4 PM. For more information
contact Gary Kurutz at (916) 653-0101 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.