TYPE DESIGN INFORMATION PAGE last updated on Fri May 24 11:54:10 EDT 2024






Francesco Griffo

Born and died in Bologna, ca. 1450-1518. Also called Francesco da Bologna. He was a Venetian punchcutter, who worked for Aldus Manutius cutting early italics, music types and romans. Under the surname Griffo, he designed and cut all types for the Aldine Press. The "Aldine" typeface was recreated by Monotype in 1929. In 1990, the Monotype staff digitized 24 weights of Francesco Griffo's Bembo family, which was originally created in 1496---however, read on below regarding the date. The Bitstream version is called Aldine 401. Bembo is a typeface that is not compact, with its wide letters and ample spacings, so its use must be carefully weighed.

Interesting detail about the end of his life: after the death of Manutius in 1515, Griffo returned to Bologna where he printed some of his own editions until his own death in 1518 or 1519, when it is thought he was hanged for killing his brother-in-law. Kevin Steele explains in 1996: Some sources cite the publication of Cardinal Bembo's De Aetna as 1493 or 1495. And in fact, the design continued to evolve until the 1499 publishing of the spectacular Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. Let's not split hairs. Let's celebrate 500 years of Bembo! In the mid fifteenth century printing quickly spread to Italy from Germany, and by the 1470's Venice had became the center of the printing industry, home to over 100 printing companies. Pioneers such as Erhard Ratdolt and Nicolas Jenson had already begun working on adapting the roman alphabet for metal type by the time Aldus Manutius established his press in 1494, with the intention of publishing all the Greek classics. Aldus Manutius (1450-1515) was a printer, entrepreneur, a great ego, and publisher of over 1200 titles. Among the many contributions of Aldus was the popularization of small, portable books. His expensive beautiful books were far from today's paperbacks, mind you. One of the many great talents working for Aldus was Francesco Griffo, a gifted type designer. Griffo created many innovative type designs that are still admired for their beauty and readability. Their collaboration broke up over a copyright dispute, primarily over the ownership of the cursive type typeface that Griffo developed under the direction of Aldus. Although Aldus even had a papal decree to protect this style of alphabet, it was as difficult then as it is now to protect a typeface design. The alphabet was widely copied, and the style is known as italic, after its country of origin.

Fontdeck link. Linotype link. FontShop link. Nicholas Fabian on Griffo. Agustina Cabal's poster of Bembo.

Francesco Griffo
 [Designer info]
Monotype link
Behance page
MyFonts search
Monotype search
Fontspring search
Google search

Type designers ⦿ Type designers ⦿ History of type ⦿ Type design in Italy ⦿ German type scene ⦿ Venetian or antiqua typefaces ⦿ Bembo ⦿

file name: Francesco Griffo Bembo 1496 Poster by Agustina Fernandez 2014

file name: Francesco Griffo Bembo 1495 poster by Tyler Flood 2015

file name: Monotype Bembo 1929 Poster by Sarah Linderer 2016

file name: Monotype Bembo 1929 Poster by Sarah Linderer 2016b

file name: Francesco Griffo Aldino 1499

file name: Francesco Griffo Bembo 1495 Arturo Gil Bembo Poster 2013

file name: Bitstream Aldine401

file name: Bitstream Aldine401 Bold

Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html