Guillaume Le Bé
Born in Troyes in 1526, Guillaume Le Bé was a bookseller, engraver and typefounder, who studied under Claude Garamont. He set up his own foundry in 1545 and ran it until his death. In 1561, he became Garamont's successor---he took over Garamont's foundry that year. He was mainly known for his Hebrew fonts, but was also praised for a roman double canon. He died in Paris in 1598. The foundry started by Le Bé kept going until well into the nineteenth century through various successions. Since Robert Estienne's foundry ceased in 1545, Marius Audin speculates, but cannot prove, that Guillaume Le Bé got his start in 1545 by taking over Estienne's foundry. Scott-Martin Kosofsky seems to contradict Audin's observation that Le Bé was Garamont's student: There is no evidence that he was a student of Claude Garamont; rather, what we do know is that he trained in the Paris workshop of Robert Estienne. He lived for some twenty years in Venice (not ten years, as stated in some modern sources), where he worked largely for the major publishers of Judaic literature. After he returned to Paris, he did much work for the Antwerp publisher Christophe Plantin, including the text Hebrews used in the renowned Polyglot Bible (Biblia Regia, 1568-1572).
The timeline of the foundry:
- 1545-1598: Guillaume Le Bé starts and expands the foundry.
- 1598-1636: Guillaume II Le Bé (d. 1636), son of Guillaume Le Bé, runs the business.
- 1636-1685: Guillaume III Le Bé (d. 1685, Paris), son of Guillaume II Le Bé, runs the business.
- 1685-1707: Veuve Guillaume III Le Bé (d. 1707), runs the business, according to Marius Audin. According to Renouard, it was in fact Veuve Guillaume II Le Bé who succeeded her son, and who left the managerial task to the foundry of Claude Faure.
- 1707-1730: The Le Bé sisters. The four daughters of Guillaume III Le Bé ran the shop under the directorship of Jean Claude Fournier le père.
- 1730-1783: Jean Pierre Fornier heads the foundry. Born in 1706 in Paris, he was also called Fournier the elder (in French, l'aîné, or oldest son), son of Jean Claude. Upon his death in Mongé in 1783, he leaves the foundry to his three daughters.
- 1783-1818: The Fournier sisters are in charge: Elisabeth Françoise, Marie, and Adelaîde.
- 1818-1835: It is unclear what happened in 1818. I quote Audin, who notes that the foundry of Léger occupies the shop at 28, place de l'Estrapade in Paris, which is precisely where the Fournier sisters had their foundry. He thinks that Léger bought the Fournier foundry. The Léger foundry existed until 1835.
Digitizations of his work include
- Le Bé (Large Hebrew, Hebrew Text), designed in 2010 by Scott-Martin Kosofsky and Matthew Carter. The Large Hebrew style is a replica, more or less, of Le Bés seven-line pica Hebrew (Vervliet Conspectus, #403) with some modifications and the addition of diacritics.
- Guillaume (2015) by George Tulloch. Guillaume's roman is based on Le Bé's double canon while the italic is based on Claude Garamond and the numerals are taken from a set cut by Le Bé's pupil Jacques de Sanlecque the elder.
- Hebrew Le Be Tanach (2022).
Klingspor Museum page
Guillaume Le Bé
Type design in France ⦿
Foundries of the 18th century ⦿
Foundries of the 19th century ⦿
Type designers ⦿
Type designers ⦿
Hebrew font links ⦿