Arrow left Arrow right

What is italic?
Seven examples

Niccolo Niccoli

A brand-new style, 1423
Where did it come from? The movement pattern of early italic was within easy reach. It is close to the mercantesa, an Italian blackletter cursive of the late middle ages. A few letterforms came from Carolingian minuscule. The capitals were based on the Roman.

From Cicero: “Orator” and “Brutus.” Bibl Nazionale, Florence, Conv. Sopp. J.I14.

The creator

Niccolò Niccoli (c. 1364–1437) had an idea

T he man was one of the leading scholars at the Medici court in Florence. He was an accomplished penman and his library the best in the city. He copied and collated ancient manuscripts, correcting the texts, introducing divisions into chapters, and making tables of contents.

For more on the beginnings of italic, see B.L. Ullman’s The Origin and Development of Humanistic Script (Edizioni de storia e Letteratura, Rome 1960).