Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The genius of Erhard Ratdolt



see how the woodcut border and gothic floral interlaced-initials are used by Erhard Ratdolt as a design element 

Ratdolt was an early German printer, active printing in Venice, where he worked from 1476 to 1486. There he produced a Kalendario (1476) for Regiomontanus



Ratdolt's design brings forth a German taste for excellence and a novel sense of experimentation, look at the floral "H" printed (above) in red and white, and the complicated greek & roman lace motifs in white over black.  

Or below, the novelty of presenting lunar cycles,



Ratdolt also has the Historia Romana of Appianus (1477), and Euclid's Elements (1482), solving the problem of reproducing mathematical diagrams. Another important work by Ratdolt are his Poeticon astronomicon (1482). Ratdolt commissioned a series of woodcuts depicting the constellations to accompany Hyginus' text. As with many other star atlases that would follow it, the positions of various stars are indicated overlaid on the mythological image of each constellation. 



Ratdolt's innovations of layout and typography, mixing type and woodcuts are unique in his balance of dazzling technique and imagination.

(as his representation of lunar eclipse),



or his take on alchemy:


See the pictographic narrative of Ratdolt in the upper half of the page. The title, "Haly /Albohazen filii Abennagel" refers to Liber in judicii astrorum, a Rosicrucian text published by Ratdolt in Venice, 1485 (Albohazen, who we see on a throne with an astrolobium, is flanked by naked "Astronomia" and "Urania").