Around Oxford Digital Humanities

Illuminating the Past: Czech Printed Images during the Reformation (c. 1450-1550) and the ‘e-ilustrace’ Database

A Presentation by Veronika Sladká

Recording of the session in the Taylor Institution Library, Room 2, on Wednesday, 8 November 2023

One hundred years before Martin Luther’s arrival, the Reformation had already established itself in One hundred years before Martin Luther’s arrival, the Reformation had already established itself in Bohemia, resulting in a significant aversion towards sacred images. Nevertheless, bibliographical records suggest that around 6,000 printed images had been disseminated through books in Bohemia up to 1550. The lecture explores the fascinating journey of visual narratives in the earliest printed books produced in the Czech lands. The discussion sheds light on how the medium of illustration was employed within these texts, and how it evolved alongside the burgeoning Reformation movement. It explores the foreign influences and patterns that shaped the images in Czech printed books, as well as some of the most richly illustrated works. Finally, the session presents “e-ilustrace”, a new online database of Czech printed images.

More information on the preceding session which demonstrated the use of image matching technology with examples from the Taylor Institution Library can be found at the post Digital Tools for History of the Book: Image Matching

Veronika Sladká, a former curator of the rare book collection at St. Augustin Monastery Library in Prague, is a book historian at the Czech Academy of Sciences Library. She specializes in the history of printing and book design in 16th-century Czech lands, particularly focusing on publishing strategies during the Reformation and the printing activities of the Protestant community known as the Unity of Brethren. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Information Science at Charles University in Prague and has published several studies on the history of the Augustinian monastery library and the publishing strategy of the Bohemian Brethren. Her latest contribution to the compendium Printing and Misprinting: A Companion to Mistakes and In-House Corrections in Renaissance Europe (1450-1650) (ed. Geri Della Rocca de Candal, Anthony Grafton, Paolo Sachet, OUP 2022) focuses on the collaborative editorial and proofreading methods used by the Brethren’s bishops.

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