1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bodoni, Giambattista

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BODONI, GIAMBATTISTA (1740–1813), Italian printer, was born in 1740 at Saluzzo in Piedmont, where his father owned a printing establishment. While yet a boy he began to engrave on wood. He at length went to Rome, and there became a compositor for the press of the Propaganda. He made himself acquainted with the Oriental languages, and thus was enabled to render essential service to the Propaganda press, by restoring and accurately distributing the types of several Oriental alphabets which had fallen into disorder. The infante Don Ferdinand, afterwards duke of Parma, having established, about 1760, a printing-house on the model of those in Paris, Madrid and Turin, Bodoni was placed at the head of this establishment, which he soon rendered the first of the kind in Europe. The beauty of his typography, &c., leaves nothing further to be desired; but the intrinsic value of his editions is seldom equal to their outward splendour. His Homer, however, is a truly magnificent work; and, indeed, his Greek letters are faultless imitations of the best Greek manuscript. His editions of the Greek, Latin, Italian and French classics are all highly prized for their typographical elegance, and some of them are not less remarkable for their accuracy. Bodoni died at Padua in 1813. In 1818 a magnificent work appeared in two volumes quarto, entitled Manuale Tipografico, containing specimens of the vast collection of types which had belonged to him.

See De Lama, Vita del Cavaliere Giambattista Bodoni (1816).