Giambattista Bodoni

1740 Giambattista Bodoni is born on February 26th into a family of typographers in Saluzzo.

1758 Bodoni resides in Rome, working for the Propaganda Fide polyglot printing office.

1766 The printer decides to leave Rome for London with the purpose of mastering the art of engraving. Struck by malaria in Piemonte, Bodoni has to give up his journey to London. In Saluzzo, the pu[1]blisher receives an invitation from the Duke Ferdinand of Bourbon, calling him to establish and manage The Royal Printing Office in Parma, soon to become famous in the whole of Europe for the perfection of its editions.

1768 The typographer arrives in Parma, where he will remain for the rest of his life, sought after and visited by royalties and scholars.

1769 Bodoni issues Descrizione delle Feste for the matrimony of the Duke Ferdinand and the Archdu[1]chess Maria Amalia of Austria – the most important Italian celebration book.

1771 He publishes his first typography manual Fregi e Majuscole, the opening volume of a series of spe[1]cimen books displaying facetypes of his own design and incision.

1775 Epithalamia Exoticis Linguis Reddita, a splendid sample of 26 various Oriental facetypes, enri[1]ched with 139 engravings, issued for the matrimony of the Charles Emmanuel, Prince of Piedmont and Marie Clotilde of France.

1783 Bodoni is given the position of royal typographer by Charles III of Spain. On the occasion of the visit of the Prince of Russia, the emperor-to-be Paul I and his spouse in the printing office, Bodoni publishes Essai de Caracteres Russes.

1788 The manual Manuale Tipografico and the essay Serie di Maiuscole e Caratteri Cancellereschi come out.

1791 Bodoni marries Margherita Dall’Aglio, contributor to his work and continuator after his death. In 1791 he opens his own printing office, allowing him to pursue his passion for beauty and perfection in books. Bodoni opens his Latin classics series with a splendid edition of Orazio Flacco.

1793 The typographer edits Virgilio and other Latin classics supported by his patron, Nicolas de Azara, at that time minister of the King of Spain in Rome.

1794 Bodoni prints La Gerusalemme of Torquato Tasso with a dedication to the king of Spain Charles IV, which has to be considered one of his masterpieces.

1795 He prints and dedicates La Divina Commedia to Don Louis of Bourbon.

1796 Napoleon enters the Duchy of Parma, which is allowed to maintain its sovereignty in return for neutrality, onerous war levies and requisition of works of art.

1797 Bodoni prints Petrarch’s verses.

1800 Pitture di Antonio Allegri detto Il Correggio Esistenti nel Monistero di San Paolo. It is a book in Italian, French and Spanish edited with a great variety of types and followed by 35 figures engraved by Francesco Rosaspina, some in black and others in sanguine.

1802 Don Ferdinand of Bourbon suddenly dies in 1802; the Duchy soon becomes a fully integrated part of the French dominion. Louis Moreau de Saint-Méry is appointed General Administrator of the Duchy of Parma.

1805 On June 26th, Napoleon, on a visit in Parma, asks to meet the typographer, who is forced to stay in bed because of gout.

1806 Bodoni prints the Oratio Dominica, that is the “Our Father” in 155 languages, a precious book that will make history in typography. It contains a preface in French, Italian and Latin and a dedica[1]tion to the viceroy of Italy, Eugène Rose de Beauharnais. Divided into 4 parts, the Oratio Domi[1]nica, with its 215 different types, embraces Asiatic, European, African and American languages. That same year Bodoni sends to Paris 14 of his editions winning the gold medal of the first prize. Hosted in Monza by the Viceroy, in July he brings the Oratio Dominica to Milan.

1808 Iliad in Greek, Bodoni’s masterpiece, a splendid edition in three volumes of maximum size. Other two copies on parchment of Bavaria are printed, one for Napoleon (now in the National Library of Paris) and the other for Eugène (in the Palatina Library of Parma).

1810 Napoleon awards the typographer with a life pension of three thousand marks “because of the good progress he has made in the art of typography”.

1811 Murat decorates Bodoni with the Order of the Two-Sicilies.

1812 Napoleon decorates the typographer with the Imperial Order of the Reunion offering him 18.000 francs as a gift. During the final years of his restless life Bodoni struggles to finalize the edition of four French classics: Fenelon, Racine, La Fontaine, Boileau – a publication commissioned by the king Joachim

Murat for educational purposes of his son Achille. To celebrate the birth of the King of Rome, Bodoni prints the Cimelio Tipografico Pittorico, dedi[1]cated to Napoleon I and Marie Louise of Austria.

1813 Bodoni’s demise in Parma on November 30th. The announcement of his death is dignified by the sounds of Bajon, the Cathedral’s greatest bell, strictly reserved for figures of highly noble lineage. The funeral is held at the Cathedral on December 2nd, in the presence of government officials, municipal representatives, as well as academics and artists.

1818 The widowed Margherita Dall’Aglio, after putting the finishing touch to the French Classics edition commissioned by Murat, publishes Bodoni’s ultimate Manuale Tipografico in two volumes, fruit of decades of work of the illustrious typographer