View The Oldest Multicolor Print Book

View The Oldest Multicolor Print Book, Opened For The First Time | Co.Design | business + design.

For our first “Friday Fun” item today we feature this amazing item – a multicolored book that dates from 1633!

1633-Chinese-multicolor book

Here’s the opening of the story on this rare and beautiful book. Find the rest of it and more images at the link above:

Cambridge University Library recently digitized the first multicolor printed book, a 17th-century artist manual that remained in print for over 200 years. Manual of Calligraphy and Painting (Shi zhu zhai shu hua pu) was so fragile in physical form that it had previously never even been opened.

“This is the earliest and finest example of multicolor printing anywhere in the world, comprising 138 paintings and sketches with associated texts by 50 different artists and calligraphers,” Charles Aylmer, head of the Chinese Department at library, says in a statement. “Although reprinted many times, complete sets of early editions in the original binding are extremely rare.”

…Essentially a massive archive of works from artists of 17th-century China, the book is divided into eight categories that cover calligraphy, bamboo, flowers, rocks, birds and animals, plums, orchids, and fruit. Each image is followed by a text or poem, interspersed with instructions for basic artist technique, like the correct way to hold a paintbrush. For the 200-plus years it stayed in print, the book had a huge influence on color printing all across China.

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