SERENISSIMA REPUBBLICA VENETA
The printing house Remondini was established mid seventeenth Century and was a highly innovative, unique business for that time on the European scene. With about fifty torches, four paper mills, bookshops in Venice, the Tyrol, in the Friuli region; with a thousand employees in the main place of business in Bassano and a several hundred salesmen who travelled the four corners of the earth: for contemporaries, all this made a Remondini a source of wonder and it seemed to anticipade future developments of modern industrial production.
Remondini had a happy business intuition thst was extraordinarlily avant-garde for that time: this was to produce prints and popular books in large quantities at an extremely competitive price compared to the traditional printing houses.
A production that was distributed by means of a sales network set up on the lines of another equally innovative and brilliant idea. Hundreds of travelling salesmen from the poor valleys of the Trentino and Friuli regions received on credit from Remondini hundreds of prints and a small amount of money for the journey. As security they gave their field or their house. For decades these "commercial agents" took the prints and the other editorial prducts of the printing house of Bassano in this manner onto all the markets of the world, from the Americas to Russia, to Asia, and returned every three or four years to stock up ...and to settle their debt with Mr. Remondini. The information they brought back with them from their journeys, also allowed Remondini to make prints entirely suited to the public taste of the contries to which they were directed.
For about two centuires, from the mid seventeenth to the mid nineteenth Century, the largest and most representativ part of the vast Remondini production consisted of popular prints. Religious subjects depicting Saints, the Divinity, scenes of the Old and the New Testament were produced in very high numbers, obtained with low-cost techniques and often hurried finishes which, however, allowed even the poorest social classes to purchase them.
Alongside the religious prints were those of a profane nature, portraying themes belogning to tradition and which stimulated popular imagination: animals, hulan vices, love, the crafts, agricultural life.
The prints were used in many ways, e.g. for games, cheap fans, optical views of the city (first rudimentary example of "cinematographic" animation), visiting cards, "poor lacquer" (decorations and pictures printed on thin paper and stuck onto forniture), atlases.
Decorated paper enjoyed unprecedented widespread popularity in the eighteenth Century. There were various types for different uses according to the production technique (xylographic, marble, sixed, gilt-edge, flock or velour). The commonest, xylographic paper, was of French origin occupied most of the space in the Remondini house catalogues. With motifs inspirated by oriental fabrics, their success was due to the fact that even the common people could afford to decorate their homes in the same way as the noblemen, who instead used extremey expensibe fabrics for that purpose.Il 1700 conobbe una diffusione senza precedenti delle carte decorate. Di diversi tipi a seconda della tecnica di realizzazione (xilografate, marmorizzate, a colla, dorate, vellutate) conoscevano gli usi più diversi. Le più diffuse, le carte xilografate, erano di origini francese e nei cataloghi di casa Remondini vennero ad occupare uno spazio preponderante. Ispirate nei loro motivi alle stoffe orientali, dovettero la ragione del loro successo al fatto che permettevano anche alle classi popolari di abbellire ambienti domestici al modo delle residenze dalla nobiltà che ricorreva a ben più costosi tessuti. Esse si ottenevano tramite impressione del foglio di carta su una matrice di legno intagliata; date le dimensioni ridotte delle matrici ("legni") era necessario ripetere l'operazione più volte per stampare l'intero foglio.
These papers were obtained by embossing the sheet of paper by means of an engraved wooden matrix: given the produced dimensions of the matrices ("wood blocks"), the operation had to be repeated several times before the whole sheet was printed.
The Remondini printing technique was different from the usual wood-block printing. A watery solution of ink was used instead of the normal printing ink. There is consequently no flat distribution of colour in the embossed work of the drawing, but on the contrary, a variegated, ramiferous surface with irregular edges: this would suggest a deliberate overloading of colour or dye onto the matrix. This distinguishing feature of Remondini wood-block printing highlights the use of transparent dies, which allowed variations in deepness according to their thickness. Inking was not done by rollers or pads. The matrix was almost certainly held in the hands, rotated and the surface placed in the contract with the colour or dye conatined in an earthenware bowl. The matrix was then passed like a die onto the sheet of paper and hit on the back with a wooden mallet in order to exercise enough pressure to make the print even. The picture printed in this way could then be completed by further "a strafforo" work, i.e. using stencil of free-hand with a brush.
The Museum of Bassano del Grappa
The Museum of Bassano del Grappa is one of the oldest civic museums of the Veneto region, having been founded in 1828 form a legacy by the naturalist Giambattista Brocchi. Originally established as combined museum, library and municipal historical archives, the Museum of Bassano was transferred in 1840 to its present site in the former monastery of the church of San Francesco. Around the exceptional collection of paintings by the Dal Ponte family, already owned by the municipality or brought from local chuches, very soon, also thanks to bequests and donations, numerous other sections were established. Due to the articulated strucuture of museum, library and archives, the institute is the heart of the cultural life of Bassano, promoting and housing an intense activity of research, publishing, exhibitions and conferences. The archological section exhibits objects discovered in the area and the imporant Chini Collection of Greek and Apulian ceramics. From the private Remondini Collection (the largest European printers and chalcographers of the XVII century) also come more than 8000 prints b the leading peronalities of European history of printing.