HomeBook Design at the Officina Plantiniana and beyond

HomeBook Design at the Officina Plantiniana and beyond

Book Design at the Officina Plantiniana and beyond

L’art du livre au temps des Plantin-Moretus

Forms, models and influences

Formes, modèles et influences

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Published on Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Organisé à l'occasion du Ve centenaire de la naissance de Christophe Plantin (vers 1520–1589), ce colloque d'histoire du livre sera consacré au premier siècle d'activité de l'officine éditoriale créée par Plantin à Anvers, et transmise à ses successeurs : les Moretus. Il accordera une attention particulière aux questions de typographie, de mise en page et d’illustration. Les thématiques suivantes seront privilégiées : les caractéristiques formelles de l’édition imprimée entre les années 1550 et les années 1650 ; les influences reçues et exercées par les Plantin-Moretus ; la marque de l’Officina Plantiniana et ses usages.



International conference organized by the Bibliothèque Mazarine (Paris) and the Cultura Fonds (Dilbeek, Brussels), in cooperation with the Plantin Moretus Museum (Antwerp).Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, 18-19 November 2020


In autumn 2020, the Bibliothèque Mazarine (Paris) and the Cultura Fonds (Dilbeek-Brussels), in collaboration with the Plantin Moretus Museum (Antwerp), will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Plantin's birth (circa 1520-1589) with an international conference and an exhibition.

Originally from Touraine, Plantin was trained as a bookbinder, but around 1549/50, he moved to Antwerp, a hub for international trade. In 1555, he laid the foundations for the largest printing company that has ever existed in Europe during the Ancien Régime.

Plantin was a business genius and a talented typographer. In 1570, Philips II, king of Spain, bestowed on him the title of architypographer. Although Plantin was at times also involved in illicit activities, his company, bearing the device The Golden Compasses, became one of the most important supporters of the Counter Reformation. After his death, the business was passed on to his son-in-law Jan Moretus I, and remained in the hands of the family until the 19th century.

From the outset, Plantin’s production was marked by its quality. Both his correspondence and the surviving business documents give testimony of his great ambitions, his understanding of the different buyers and markets, and his extreme care for book design.

Christopher Plantin and his successors transformed the aesthetics of the Renaissance book and inaugurated the Baroque era in terms of its mise en page by mobilizing new typographical and ornamental materials and by promoting copperplate illustrations. In addition, they set up a privileged collaboration with the artist Pieter Paul Rubens. During this golden century of the Officina Plantiniana, which gave birth to more than 5,000 editions, visual temptation is combined with readability and efficiency in the shaping of the texts and book design.

The aim of the conference is to present new research on the activities and production of the Officina Plantiniana as well as on contemporary workshops, paying particular attention to subjects related to typographical design, mise en page and illustration.

Papers will preferably focus on the following issues:

- Design. How did typographical features and mise en page in general evolve during this period, in the production of the Officina Plantinana and in other European workshops between the 1550s and the 1650s? Is the transition from Renaissance conceptions to Baroque aesthetics of the book then subject to significant geographical variations?

- Influences. In terms of mise en page, which book printers influenced Christopher Plantin and his successors, the Moretusses ? How, in turn, did the models developed by the Officina Plantiniana influence European production?

- Brand. The Officina Plantiniana brand and motto served as a guarantee of typographical excellence, and acquired such a reputation that they were quickly exploited end even counterfeited by others. When, by whom and why was this much coveted brand adopted ?

Submission guidelines

Papers, in French or English, should not exceed 20 minutes. Proposals for papers, together with a 400-word (maximum) abstract, must be submitted

by 29 February 2020

to : contact@bibliotheque-mazarine.fr A definitive answer will be given by 15 April 2020.

The conference will accompany an exhibition, organized by the Bibliothèque Mazarine and the Cultura Fonds : A century of typographical excellence: Christopher Plantin and the Officina Plantiniana (1555-1655) [20 November 2020 - 27 February 2021].

For further information, please contact Goran Proot (Cultura Fonds Library, goran.proot@gmail.com) or Yann Sordet (Bibliothèque Mazarine, yann.sordet@bibliotheque-mazarine.fr).

Scientific Committee

  • Christine Bénévent (École nationale des chartes, Paris) ;
  • Diane Cuny (Centre d'Études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) ;
  • Dirk Imhof (Plantin-Moretus Museum, Antwerp) ;
  • Renaud Milazzo (EmoBookTrade project, Università di Milano) ;
  • Angela Nuovo (EmoBookTrade project, Università di Milano) ;
  • Goran Proot (Cultura Fonds, Dilbeek; EmoBookTrade project, Università di Milano) ;
  • Yann Sordet (Bibliothèque Mazarine; Centre Jean-Mabillon) ;
  • Christophe Vellet (Bibliothèque Mazarine; Centre Jean-Mabillon).


  • Bibliothèque Mazarine, 23 quai de Conti
    Paris, France (75)


  • Saturday, February 29, 2020


  • Christophe Plantin, Jan Moretus, livre, édition, mise en page, typographie


  • Yann Sordet
    courriel : yann [dot] sordet [at] bibliotheque-mazarine [dot] fr
  • Proot Goran
    courriel : goran [dot] proot [at] gmail [dot] com

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Yann Sordet
    courriel : yann [dot] sordet [at] bibliotheque-mazarine [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Book Design at the Officina Plantiniana and beyond », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, October 23, 2019, https://calenda.org/690281

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