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What is the history of illustration in books and periodicals?

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enotes | Valedictorian

Posted May 9, 2014 at 9:34 PM via web

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What is the history of illustration in books and periodicals?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 21, 2014 at 9:39 PM (Answer #1)

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The history of illustration in books is quit different as far as time and initiative from that of illustration in periodicals such as magazines. 

Illustrations in books date back to the 15th century with "block books". This was the available method shortly after the creation of the printing press wood cuts. The method was to cut both text with its corresponding illustration onto the same block so they would print out together. 

The woodcuts of the 15th century were updated to copperplates that would be engraved during the 16th century, and then etched on during the 17th century. Engraving wood became a popular medium for illustration throughout the 18thc thanks to Bewick, and shortly after illustration became revolutionized with the invention of the lithograph by Johann Alois Senefelder. The ease of production that the lithograph brought to publishing made it way easier for illustrations to become a part of literature in books. Later on, polychrome and photography took the place of illustrations, Kodak being one of the pioneers. However, the Victorian era is the quintessential example of the return to illustration, even with the technology available for photography. Worth noting are the book covers of Oscar Wilde plays and poems by Aubrey Beardsley, the designs by the Victorian ultimate himself, William Morris, Normal Rockwell, Picasso, Pyle, and Duhrer to mention just a few.

Periodicals such as magazines and journals took the illustration idea from 19th century media. Pamphlets, handouts, and other non-periodicals would be used to advertisement, sometimes even libel (in the modern sense of the word), and other forms of information. It was Herbert Ingram's Illustrated London News, whose first publication featured 16 stories, 32 woodcut illustrations, and the approval of the Archbishop of Canterbury among other accolades. Later on, France and Germany got a heads up and began to publish their own illustrated news, which caught up quite well in magazines such as the Gazette, Scots Observer, Punch (perhaps the most popular illustrated periodical of its time), Telegraph and, of course, the Yellow Book

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