Who invented Garamond?

Apparently, although the typefaces cut by Claude Garamont were brilliantly successful designs, he was not the inventor of the style that bears his name. Paradoxically, the "Garamond" style preceded Claude Garamont's career. As it turns out, around 1530, Robert Estienne published an edition of Cicero's Orationes partitiones which used two sizes of an extremely modern roman font. Today, the cutting of this font is attributed to the mysterious "Master Constantin", mentioned in the Guillaume Le Bé's Memorandum (1643).

These two fairly large fonts (a gros romain and a gros canon) echoed the basic shape of the characters used by Aldus Manutius in 1495 in his edition of Pietro Bembo's De Aetna de Pietro Bembo. But their lines are much more delicate, and there is a more marked contrast between up- and downstrokes.

Typographic reform in France was the result of the cultural momentum of an entire era.

These two fonts are the first that can be (retrospectively) assimilated to the "Garamond" style. Nevertheless, the credit for reforming French typography does not go to Robert Estienne or to the mysterious and still-unidentified Master Constantin. Rather, it was the entire era and its cultural momentum. In the late 1520s and early 1530s, a number of printer-booksellers considered the graphic aspect of the works they were publishing.

It was no accident that the new roman type appeared at a time when humanists were abandoning the use of blackletter type, barely a year after the publication of Geoffroy Tory's publication of Champfleury a work devoted entirely to the design of roman characters. The book's engravings of capital letters reflected the new roman fonts; for example, the capital M was given a serif at the top of its final downstroke. Tory also felt the need to refine the strokes of letters used in typography, stating, with respect to Aldus Manutius's italic face, that "its slenderness is graceful".

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