European picturebooks, printed in colour for children,
as a catalyst for major cultural and social changes.
More exciting things happened in book design between 1837 and 1890 than in any other comparable period in the history of the world's printing.
More exciting things happened in book design between 1837 and 1890
than in any other comparable period in the history of the world's printing.
: Ruari McLean
The invention of lithography in Germany in 1796 opened new possibilities, with chromo-lithography being patented in France in 1837. Meanwhile, in Britain, other techniques were developed to print colour, at first combining intaglio and relief printing (Baxter Process), then using woodblocks in register (chromo-xylography).
These methods allowed to print colour in a cheaper, greater and more refined extent.
For the first time, from the mid-19th century, people – no matter their age, gender, social class, ethnicity, nationality – saw the world in colour.
This had important implications for many aspects of culture, society and the economy. It led to a completely new visual culture, with colour quickly becoming widespread.
Quite remarkably, this major revolution in visual culture had its origins in picturebooks for children. It is doubly remarkable that children's book scholars and book historians have very limitedly investigated the genesis, development and effects of this major shift in print culture.
We lack studies of how colour became prevalent in children's books, expanded more widely through print and spread across national boundaries.
PiCoBoo will draw new attention to this important chapter in the history of the book.
Adopting an object-based interdisciplinary approach, this will be the first detailed account of 19th-century colour picturebooks for children and will analyse what they were, when, where and how they were made, who produced them and for whom, what their role in cultural, publishing and visual history and their long-term influence.
In the absence of European aggregators of children's books, PiCoBoo will build a network of collections of colour picturebooks and it will establish protocols for recognising and cataloguing them.
PiCoBoo is supervised by professor Matthew O. Grenby and hosted by the Children's Literature Unit in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University.
The project includes a Secondment at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the partnership of Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books.
PiCoBoo project – funded under the H2020-EU.1.3.2 programme (grant agreement no. 792994) – is designed by Francesca Tancini, Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow and post-doctoral researcher.
Francesca Tancini has been researching 19th-century children's books through postdoctoral fellowships granted by universities including Oxford, Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
Holding a PhD in Visual Studies at the University of Siena supervised by professor Victor I. Stoichita, she has a long experience as curator librarian and rare book cataloguer.
She curated exhibitions as The world of Walter Crane, at the Houghton Library, Harvard, with Hope Mayo (2015), on the occasion of the centennial of the artist's death; Esopo, Gualtiero, Jean e gli altri, on Aesop's Fables at Bologna University Library (2018), and has been assistant curator of the major exhibition John Ruskin, Le Pietre di Venezia, curated by Anna Ottani Cavina at the Ducal Palace, Venice (2018). Philip and Frances Hofer Lecturer for 2015 at Harvard University, she has worked on transnational research projects as EDPOP: The European Dimensions of Popular Print Culture, 1500-1900.
Author of several essays on illustration, she collaborates with the Italian Dictionary of National Biographies.
Francesca can be contacted at email@example.com