Census of Italian Renaissance Woodcuts

L'Atlante delle xilografie italiane del Rinascimento (The Census of Italian Renaissance Woodcuts) is the result of a research project designed to study and catalogue woodcut graphic material and wood blocks made in Italy from the time of the first known examples up to about 1550.
This involved examining singe-sheet prints and wood blocks preserved in public and private collections or still in their places of origin, such as churches and convents.
The digital archive can be consulted using various search keys. It has constantly updated images and files and is linked to the major international databases in the sector.
The aim of the project and of the Digital Archive is also to be a reference point for the study of Italian woodcuts by creating an active and updated network involving art historians, woodcut experts and the institutions that hold the materials surveyed.
We invite you to contact us at italianwoodcuts.census@cini.it to inform us about new items to be catalogued, to supplement and correct the information provided in the entries, to explore topics together and to let us know about any new publications.

In 2021, the project benefited from a prestigious grant from the Getty Foundation of Los Angeles as part of The Paper Project: Prints and Drawings Curatorship in the 21st Century, which finance training, curating, cataloging of graphic materials. In 2022, the Census of Italian Renaissance Woodcuts also received funding from the International Fine Prints Dealers Association (IFPDA) to support research and cataloging.

Materials in the catalogue entries

Woodcuts on single sheets and in books are the Cinderella of engraving studies, a discipline that has seen some major but discontinuous research in Italy. The first and most obvious result of the Digital Archive has been the salvaging of previously unknown or little-known works of art, scattered in the most disparate places. The rarity and fragility of the materials makes their recovery desirable also for the purpose of safeguarding them.
These hitherto "invisible" (several were even unknown in the literature) contain precious information that enhances our knowledge of Renaissance art. Firstly, from the point of view of the history and evolution of style for which we know that during the early Renaissance the principle of the unity of the arts reigned in artists' workshops and the great masters resorted simultaneously to various artistic practices, also providing designs for the new art of engraving in all its forms. Moreover, an atlas of images that can be compared enables us to suggest areas of figurative production and groups of stylistic families, creating new artistic identities or enriching the catalogue of masters and known monogrammists.
The rediscovery and study of these woodcuts also contributes to knowledge of religious and secular customs and, more generally, to the history of Renaissance culture by shedding light on the interweaving of learned and popular culture, the frequent presence of texts, and the variety and originality of the subjects of the sheets (official and apocryphal Gospels, lives of saints, historical events, medicine, magic, games, satire, geography and portraiture).

Instructions for consultation

Each woodcut is assigned a code, i.e. the identification number of the census preceded by the prefix 'ALU.' (acronym of Aldovini-Landau-Urbini): for example, ALU.0700. In the case of wood blocks, the number is followed by '-M': for example, ALU.0290-M. In the case of several copies of the same print, the number is followed by '.1, .2, .3…': for example, ALU.0290.1, ALU.0290.2.
The order for the bibliographic citation of an entry is:
Name of the author of the entry,
Atlante delle xilografie italiane del Rinascimento, acronym ALU followed by the relevant number, permalink
For example:
L. Aldovini, Atlante delle xilografie italiane del Rinascimento, ALU.0001.1, permalink, ISBN 978-88-96445-24-2.




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