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The Impact of the Developments of Printing on the Decoration of Books of Hours as Illustrated in Examples found in Collections in Malta

Authors: Martina Caruana,
  • Institute: Institute of Creative Arts
  • Symposium: Emerging Technology and Creative Innovation
  • Day: 2 , Session: 1 , Location: Auditorium
  • Session Type: Short 10 min (Early stage research) , Start: 10:45 , End: 11:00


The mid fifteenth century saw significant technological developments in the printing industry in Europe. Gutenberg’s revolutionary contribution to printing through the use of moveable type impacted the book trade considerably and caused a shift in manufacturing techniques and aesthetics. Through this presentation, the impact of such developments will be discussed with particular reference to the book of hours, citing examples from collections in Malta. Specific reference will be made to illuminated and decorated books of hours from the National Library in Valletta, together with an example from the Wignacourt Collegiate Museum in Rabat. While providing a contextual background to the popular late medieval book of hours and its manufacture in manuscript form and with hand painted illumination, together with outlining Gutenberg’s contribution to developments in printing, this presentation accounts for the way the manufacture of books of hours changed around the turn of the sixteenth century. It discusses aspects of continuity while noting the significant changes promoted by such a landmark technological innovation. While doing so it accounts for the adaptations/innovations that contemporary artists made to the visual arts in response to such changes. Furthermore, it highlights the resultant democratization of both the text and the associated image for the benefit of an increasingly literate society.