The italics

Italic type was created in Venice by Aldus Manutius, and by the early 16th century it was in use in France. Text printed in italics were tighter on the page, which was particularly useful for smaller-format books, and they provided a keenness and an elegance that were altogether new. In France, Simon de Colines was one of the first to use them, and to cut punches based on the new Italian models proposed by Arrighi around 1520. Robert Estienne also acquired several sizes of italics, but he was more sparing in his use of them: italics were used to differentiate between Latin and French, and to distinguish quotations from body text. Claude Garamont created a series of seven italic fonts – including one perhaps for Estienne – in a wide range of sizes, which he both sold and used in his own editions, starting in 1545. Incidentally, his small italics are the only typefaces that he mentioned in his writings

"(Jean de Gagny) told me that I would have the best chance of success if I could imitate the italic of Aldus Manutius in a new manner, and in addition he added, to convince me, a sum that was not stingy." Claude Garamont, 1545.

Claude Garamont created a series of seven italic fonts – including one perhaps for Estienne – in a wide range of sizes, which he both sold and used in his own editions, starting in 1545. Incidentally, his small italics are the only typefaces that he mentioned in his writings.

Nevertheless, starting in 1542, it was Robert Granjon who established himself as the master in the design and creation of this style of type. His upper- and lowercase, letters were in perfect harmony, whereas for a long time the former had been missing from italic faces. His creations graced editions of poetry published by Jean de Tournes, conferring on them a higher status than that of prose. In the surge of humanism in the second half of the 16th century, they appeared in a number of dictionaries, including one published by Estienne. For Christophe Plantin's printing workshop in Antwerp, Granjon created two sets of roman typefaces, some of which were copied by Garamont, and he perfected and completed his italic faces, which led him to harmonize the two styles. Subsequently, Latin typography would use the same name for a font that contained both roman and italic characters in close association.

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