Translating the Hand into Print - Johann Neudörffer's Etched Writing Manual

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By its very nature a writing manual encourages viewer participation, as it illustrates to readers how to form lines into letters. In Johann Neudörffer’s Gute Ordnung (Good Order, 1538- after 1543) this genesis of lines extends beyond pure pedagogy. In addition to illustrating the manual creation of marks, Neudörffer lays open methods for their mechanical production by displaying etchings in mirror writing alongside true-sided counterproofs, thereby inviting viewers to consider intermediary printmaking steps alongside final products. Neudörffer’s text-images share their self-aware attention to linear aesthetics and process with drawings and etchings by contemporaries including Albrecht Altdorfer and Albrecht Dürer. As Neudörffer’s pedagogy shaped how contemporary viewers read lines, his manual can provide insights into how his readers became sophisticated consumers of linear beauty in figurative art. Casting the same period eye on formal and technical aspects of the Gute Ordnung reveals the manual as a key work in the history of sixteenth-century printmaking and viewing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-458
JournalRenaissance Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2022


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