The Atelier du Livre d’Art et de l’Estampe de l’Imprimerie Nationale offers a unique collection that focuses on the history of book publishing and on printing techniques. It brings together the exceptional legacy of its collections, the oldest sections of which date back to François I – punches and typefaces, seals, woodcuts and intaglio, gilding irons, nearly 700,000 pieces in all – with the full range of trades that make up the history of moveable type printing and its techniques. The creation and revival of typefaces, punch-cutting, casting type, manual and mechanical typesetting, letterpress printing, lithography, intaglio, collotype, bookbinding and papermaking: all these trades are still practiced at the Imprimerie Nationale. They are combined to produce works worthy of the traditions of excellence that have been the cornerstone of the Imprimerie since it was founded in 1640
Each of the Imprimerie Nationale's typefaces defines a reign, a style or an era. There is the Renaissance ornamentation of Garamond under François I; the classical balance of Grandjean and Jaugeon under Louis XIV; the baroque finesse of Luce from the time of Louis XV; the geometric neo-Classical precision of Napoleon's Didot; the poetic harmony of Marcellin-Legrand under Charles X; and finally, for the twentieth century, the stripped-down purity of Gauthier, created in the 1970s.
The Atelier du Livre d’Art et de l’Estampe continues to produce sumptuous, limited editions with well-known artists.
Those typesetting Eastern languages have access to the splendid treasures accumulated over the centuries at the behest of France's rulers. The most famous are the grecs du Roi designed by Claude Garamont, and the buis du régent, woodblock Chinese characters engraved between 1715 and 1740. The collections contain hieroglyphics, cuneiform, Aramaic, Samaritan and Mishnaic Hebrew, twelve styles of Arabic (Kufiq, Karmatic, Averroes, and so on), seven Indian languages, Ethiopian, Armenian, Tifinag, Palmyran, Tibetan, Khmer, Siamese, Mongolian, Japanese, Mayan – in all, some 60 scripts in more than 100 different styles that can be set by hand with the Imprimerie Nationale's historic typefaces.
The Imprimerie Nationale's typecasting machines mean that texts can be set in new type, allowing for sharper print and total precision. The printing presses can print quarto and folio limited-edition books, as well as small texts set by hand.
Along with typography, the history of the printed book is also the history of the print, which preceded the use of movable type. From its inception, the Imprimerie Royale has produced masterpieces, including frontispieces by Poussin for an edition of Virgil, engravings of the Cabinet du Roi, and plates for the Description of Egypt. At the turn of the century, the Imprimerie published Verlaine's Parallèlement, with illustrations by Bonnard, which remains the most perfect example of the "artist's book," combining the inspiration of the poet and the painter.
In keeping with this tradition, the Atelier du Livre d’Art et de l’Estampe continues to produce sumptuous, limited editions with well-known artists, and executes commissions for publishers, artists, galleries, book lovers, collectors, public institutions and private firms.
Contemporary book collecting. Creation of exclusive typefaces. Digitisation of historic typefaces. Prints. Punch-cutting. Type casting. Latin and Oriental-language typesetting. Editorial consulting. Correction. Letterpress printing. Intaglio printing. Lithography. Collotype printing. Bookbinding. Papermaking. Derivative products and typographic creations. Exhibitions. Demonstrations. Training.