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Printing R-evolution 1470-2020



Printing R-evolution 1470-2020

Printing R-evolution 1470-2020, an event held at the Embassy of Italy in London on 23 January, explored the development of printing in Italy; the knowledge economy, ancient and modern; and the treasures held by Italian libraries. The speakers were Professor Cristina Dondi, an expert in ancient European books; Chiara Medioli, the vice-chair of Fedrigoni; Elaine Ward, the director of production at Phaidon; and Nolan Browne, the director of the Taschen Gallery in London.

The occasion marked the arrival of one of the oldest incunabula printed in Italy, which will be displayed at the embassy for six months, on the request of the ambassador, Raffaele Trombetta. The incunable, De Civitate Dei by Saint Augustine, was printed in Subiaco in 1467 and the original manuscript on which it was based are still in the possession of the library of the monastery of Saint Scholastica, where the book was printed.

The ambassador said: “The importance and age of the volume give it immense cultural and historic value. The loan is an instance of high-profile cultural diplomacy in the context of Art2Business, a series of events with which we present examples of Italian cultural and artistic excellence that have had significant economic and social impact. I am honoured to be displaying one of the most ancient Italian books, a tangible example of the introduction and dissemination of the art of printing – a prototype of the knowledge economy. We are grateful to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for this prestigious loan and to the state library of Saint Scholastica for its generous, far-sighted and enthusiastic collaboration.”

Father Arturo (Fabrizio) Messina Cicchetti, the director of the State Library of the National Monument of Saint Scholastica, gave an address, in which he said that the book had never left the monastery’s library before and highlighted the value of modern printing techniques to preserve the ancient heritage of books and transmit it to future generations.

The speakers also discussed the possibility of a follow-up to the project of digitalising, cataloging and promoting the Subiaco library’s incunabula, to which the Polonsky Foundation has contributed almost €300,000.