Chiara Piva

‘We can only speak to the eyes’: color catalogues and art books in the eighteenth-century

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This article intends to analyse the production of both catalogues and art books with colour illustrations in the eighteenth-century Italian peninsula, following in particular the critical reception of Christoff Le Blon’s Coloritto, a volume that fostered a three-colour printing technique. Such a production is contextualised within the profound renovation in the art catalogues vogue, when the debates on the quality of black and white prints involved also the rendering of the various painting styles. In this framework, the identification of several art books with colour illustrations, which had been widely disregarded by recent scholarship, offers the opportunity to reassess their production methods, the intentions of the authors involved in their publication, and their fluctuating critical reception, depending particularly on the resistance of the connoisseurs.

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