Baroque Book Design

A tale of friendship and cooperation


The exhibition reveals publishers' love for their trade, and how they have motivated artists, printers and designers in the past and present to create top-quality products.

The baroque book: a happy joint creation of Balthasar Moretus and Peter Paul Rubens

The sixteenth century saw the emergence of many new types of book. This was due in large part to publishers such as the Plantin-Moretus family. They sought ways of recording and arranging new knowledge and ideas on paper.  They thought about how texts could be typeset more effectively, the relationship between image and text, what a title page is and other questions. This was how the book originated largely in the form that we know it today.

Balthasar I Moretus took the next major step in the development of book architecture: he started using leading artists for book design. For instance, he commissioned Peter Paul Rubens to provide the illustrations for his new prayer books. And the likes of Erasmus Quellinus, Karel de Mallery, Peeter de Jode and Abraham Van Diepenbeeck also supplied Balthasar Moretus with designs for title pages and illustrations.

The contemporary publisher as artistic director

Today, publishers continue to orchestrate the overhauling of book architecture. In this exhibition, the Plantin-Moretus Museum reveals the similarities between Balthasar Moretus’ approach and a contemporary publishing project. We discover how a leading contemporary publisher looks at the book and collaborates with artists to continuously reinvent it.

A tale of friendship and cooperation

The exhibition reveals publishers’ love for their trade, and how they have motivated artists, printers and designers in the past and present to create top-quality products. With a lecture series, workshops, and collection and workshop visits, the museum conveys this passion to its visitors. During Kunstendag voor Kinderen (Art Day for Children) and Dag van de wetenschap (Science Day), we invite designers and printers to work with the public.

Practical information

Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires

The cultural city festival ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’ pays homage to Peter Paul Rubens and his Baroque, cultural heritage. During the festival, the spotlight will be on Peter Paul Rubens, one of the most influential artists ever and the most famous inhabitant of Antwerp. He personifies the Baroque period and is an important source of inspiration for contemporary artists and the atypical lifestyle of the city and its inhabitants.

‘Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’ tells a story about the Baroque, in the past and the present, and creates a dialogue between historic Baroque and the work of contemporary artists. With the city of Antwerp and the world as its décor. ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’ is a key event in VisitFlanders' Flemish Masters programme. It promises to be explicitly extroverted and to combine artistic originality with authentic hospitality.

From June 2018 to January 2019 in Antwerp. 

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