SteveM wrote: marco wrote:
I have read that someone identifies the engraver of the Malermi Bible with the illustrator of the Hypnerotomachia: both engravers signed their works with a "b".
Others have said that it is more likely the mark of a particular workshop rather than a specific engraver, but still that would mean they were from the same workshop. Several engravers/workshops are thought to have worked on the Malermi engravings (not all are marked with the 'b').
I am not sure exactly how many of the Malermi engravings are adapted from the German, but the Malermi bible has about three times more engravings than the German, that is why I wrote 'possibly up to a third'.
"Several of the illustrations are marked with a small "b'' — a signature which (so far as we know at present) appears here for the first time, and which is to be met, again and again afterwards, during more than a century from the date of the Malermi Bible, upon outline -woodcuts produced in Venice.
"Professor Thode was the first writer who drew attention to the circumstance that the woodcuts of the Malermi Bible are copies of those in the Cologne German Bible of 1480. The Cologne woodblocks were, as everyone knows, used again in Koburger's Nuremberg Bible of 1483.
"There can be no doubt that the Italian artist had the German woodcuts before him, when he was drawing the illustrations of the Malermi Bible. He copied them indeed, but with the greatest freedom; reducing the dimensions and altering the positions, making groups where there had been isolated figures, dividing groups into their separate elements, changing the costumes in accordance with Italian fashion. In short, he simply used the Cologne illustrations as a convenient groundwork for his own designs, adopting certainly nothing beyond the pictorial subject of each. Nor did he allow the narrow and commonplace character of those Gothic models to affect his own artistic fancy; as we can easily judge from the freedom and elegance of his work. Moreover, by far the larger proportion of these compositions was entirely new, since there are only a hundred and ten illustrations in the Cologne Bible (— a hundred and seven in Koburger's Bible —); while the Malermi Bible, if we include a few repetitions, contains three hundred and eighty three. And it is precisely amongst the new ones, that we find the most charming and graceful compositions of the entire series.
"Nineteen of the Malermi woodcuts were adapted, with more or less variation, from the Postilla of Nicolaus de Lyra. Like the illuminated Bible- manuscripts of the miniaturists, the Malermi Bible includes, at the beginning, an illustration of page size, representing the seven days of the Creation. It is framed within a pretty Renaissance border of architectonic ornament. The border is frequently met with in later works from Venetian presses; the vignettes themselves appear in other editions of the Bible, in 1492 and 1494 (Hain, 3157, 3158), and afterwards."
The Art of Italian Wood-Engraving in the Fifteenth Century
by Friedrich Lippmann 1888
On the Cologne Bible illustrations:
"The Cologne bibles are of particular importance because their illustrations served as patterns for whole series of illustrations in later bibles in German, Italian, Czech (or Bohemian), French, Dutch and English, including the Great Bible of Henry VIII which came out in 1539. Before 1500, similar illustrations had been brought into Latin bibles as well. . . . In the early days of printing there was no protection for authors, artists, or their publishers. Illustrations could very readily be transferred from one book to another and a favourite set of drawings, such as appeared first in the Cologne bibles, was copied by other printers again and again. Sometimes the copying was far from intelligent and the illustrations that suffered in this way became more corrupt and less valuable as time went on."
end quote from http://www.gallerywalk.org/PM_Cologne.html
The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili was also first printed in Venice, 1499 so certainly the engraver could have been of the same workshop. Some have ascribed the engravings to Benedetto Bordone, but if the above quotation is correct in stating the the 'b' appears in prints through the following century this appears unlikely as Benetto died in 1531:
For such prints to appear over the course of a century makes it more likely I think the 'b' is the mark of a workshop rather than an individual.