Encyclopedic Works & Bertuch

Friedrich Johann Justin Bertuch was born 1747 in Weimar, Germany. He studied both theology and law before returning to Weimar to establish a publishing business. His most "purposive" work was his BILDERBUCH FUR KINDER or CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOK. It ran from 1790 to 1830, consisted of twelve complete volumes issued in 237 fascicles or bundles or parts which were later bound by the proud owners into the volumes. In 40 years there were 1185 copper-plate engravings drawn in large part by the faculty and students of Bertuch's Drawing School which he had fortuitously set up in 1774. An edition ran to 3000 copies in hand-colored and plain versions, the latter intended for coloring by the children.

As stated in the introduction to volume I: "A picture book is a no less essential and indispensable part of the equipment of a nursery than the cradle, the doll or the hobby-horse." According to Bertuch, the pictures should be "beautiful and correct" portrayals of not only the common but the rare and unfamiliar (remarkable). "Everyday things would bore a child." And the pages should not be crowded with things out of proportion one to another (such as in Stoy's work) and the text should not be too "scholarly." Thus, for each engraved plate, there is a single leaf printed on both sides in a modern Latin type (as opposed to the "ugly old Frankish German monkish script") making it easier for the child to read in German or in French. The text was first written by Bertuch and then by Carl Philipp Funke.

And the subjects are placed in a certain order to hold the reader's attention, a seemingly random order but totally calculated by Bertuch to maintain the child's interest. There are four-legged creatures, birds, fish, amphibians, insects, worms, plants, men and women in costumes, minerals, roses and fruits. Included in "miscellaneous objects" are phenomena of nature, buildings both antique and modern, inventions and discoveries, science and history, gross and microscopic renderings.

The edition exhibited here was published, presumably without authorization, by Anton Pichler beginning in 1801. He was located in Vienna, Austria. He claimed it was a "new, largely revised and improved edition" but the copper engravings were copied and the plates simply re-arranged. Also included here is a double volume published in Weimar in 1807, the far less dramatic plain version with no color but intended to be colored in by the child-reader.

Bilderbuch Zum Nutzen Und Vergnugen Der Jugend

BILDERBUCH ZUM NUTZEN UND VERGNUGEN DER JUGEND. By F. J. Bertuch. Wien: Anton Pichler, [1802]. 2nd edition. Various volumes.
Intaglio illustrations, hand colored. Exhibit checklist 10.3, 10.5, 12.1, 12.3, 12.8, 12.11 (View this item)

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