and its masters

Giambattista Bodini
Giambattista Bodoni

Manuale Tipograico
"The Manuale Tipografico"
("The Inventory of Types")

An example of the Bodoni typeface


The son of a printer, Giambattista Bodoni was born on February 16, 1740 in Saluzzo, Italy.  At the age of 18, he left home for a printing apprenticeship to the Vatican.  Bodoni learned his trade well and in 1768 he was given the position of Director of the Stamperia Reale, the Royal press for the Duke of Parma, where he remained the rest of his life.

While in the service of the Duke, he produced manuscripts in Italian, Greek and Latin and printed materials for court use.  In the beginning his typefaces were all decorative in the french style of Fournier le jeune, but by 1787 he was influenced by more of the "modern" typefaces and his manuscripts became devoid of decoration and he created his own type faces.  These new typestyles were influenced by the french printer Didot.  In 1790 the Bodoni typeface was created.

His most noted accomplishments were his lavishly beautiful collectable books, and most importantly in 1788 he created the "Manuale Tipografico"(The Inventory of types).  This was a collection of 291 roman and italic typefaces along with samples of Greek, Russian and other types.  Bodoni's passion was type design. Bodoni said,"Philosophy and the best literature impel a cultured taste more and more toward simplicity and restriction to essentials and toward a preference over all others for the beauty which has no borrowed plumes... the type is the one thing which is inevitably necessary, and to it all else is subserviant".  Giambattista Bodoni died on November 29, 1813 in Parma, Italy.

click here for the Bodoni font family


Examples of Bodini's works


Encyclopedia Britannica: biography on Giambattista Bodoni

Typographic Exemplars from the RIT Library for Giambattista Bodoni

Graphion: Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813)

Biography and information on Giambattista Bodoni from Parma, Italy

Giambattista Bodoni Manuale Tipografico
Commentary by David Pankow

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Jill Weinstein