Giambattista Bodoni was born into a printing family in
Saluzzo, Italy. At the age of 18, he was hired by the Vatican printing
house in Rome. By 1768, he was given the position of director of
the press of Ferdinand, Duke of Parma, which he retained for the
rest of his life.
Bodoni was the most successful early proponent of what is (somewhat
misleadingly) referred to as the modern typeface, distinguished
by a strong contrast between the thin and thick strokes, and vertical,
rather than oblique, shading. His books were produced for the wealthy
and the aristocracy, and were more advanced in elegance and refinement
than anything else being printed in Europe. Intended more to be
admired than used, his publications were often badly inaccurate
and difficult to read. His Greek typefaces, as seen in his masterful
edition of Homer, are more enduringly successful.
His enormous selection of typefaces was published posthumously
in the two-volume Manuale Tipografico (Parma, 1818).