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Partial reproduction of woodblock of Imperatoria

Jessie Wei-Hsuan Chen, 2020, 22 × 16 × 2 cm, wood carving
Partial reproduction of woodblock of Imperatoria

Art historian Jessie Chen’s version of the Imperatoria woodblock used in the production of Mattioli’s herbal is not an exact replica of the original, but an endeavor to explain the process of its creation. Although made of light-colored fruitwood, historical woodblocks are usually black, having absorbed layers of ink. Durable, so that they could be set multiple times into the movable type frame alongside the text, they were laborious and costly to make. Due to this expense, as Chen estimates, a heavily used woodblock would have gone under the press around 36,000 times. Closely based on Mattioli’s Imperatoria print, Giovanna Garzoni’s seventeenth-century drawing shows the influence of the herbal’s illustrations on fixing the image of a specific plant in the early modern visual imagination.

 

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Partial reproduction of woodblock of Imperatoria
Partial reproduction of woodblock of Imperatoria

Jessie Wei-Hsuan Chen, 2020, 22 × 16 × 2 cm, wood carving

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