Friday, September 21, 2012

Jost Amman & Das Kunst und Lehrbüchlein


In my level 1 illustration for picture books class, one session is always dedicated to a brief overview of the history of illustration for picture books in North America as well as Europe, since the two are so inextricably linked. I always really enjoy this class since it gives me an excuse to brush up on my existing knowledge of the subject but more importantly and excitingly to add to it. 


I have taught the class for about two years now and every time I teach it, I like to add a bit to my knowledge of illustration's rich and fascinating history. It's pretty cool to be able to pick up dense scholarly books on the subject and to recognise and know a bit about most illustrators mentioned through out. There was no illustration department at my school when I attended so illustration was not included in my study of art history and everything I know today on the subject is self taught. I think that that's really cool and I'm proud of how much I have learned so far. I also hope that this keeps the class fun and fresh for both, my student and me. I really don't want to become one of those teachers who always teach the class in the exact same way, thus becoming stale and boring. Snorrrrrrrrr...


This time around I learned a bit more about one of the quoted many times over first picture books for kids. Namely 'Das Kunst und Lehrbüchlein' (1580) which includes many fine woodcuts by it's creator Jost Amman. I found this very interesting post about this book which talks about the concept behind the book and it's use. Mainly it was supposed to serve as inspiration and example for young (and old alike) artists who were interested in learning the skills of illustration. Back then this would have however not only meant perfecting your drawing skills but also to learn about the different types of woodcut through which the images were reproduced at the time.


I got a little over excited to begin with when seeing all the images of this instructional and inspirational work for young artists, thinking that it might have served as a colouring book (note the allowance of plenty of white spaces given to most depicted characters) but I according to the previously mentioned blog post it was not. Also one has to consider that there probably were no crayons for kids lying around the houses back in 1580. Back then I would imagine that art materials of any type were only common amongst those in the proffesion of illustration and their apprentices. Having said that, the age that one would become an apprentice was also much much younger than in todays world.


If You'd like to learn more about Jost Amman click here and here. To view the rest of the inside of 'Das Kunst und Lehrbüchlein' click here to enter the amazing German Kupferstich Kabinet database


All Images ©  HAUM 

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