The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili was published in 1499 by Venetian printer, Aldus Manutius. The incunable1 is a distinct example of Renaissance printing; it is illustrated with 172 elaborate woodcuts including eleven full page illustrations and thirty-nine decorative capitals. The Cary Graphic Arts Collection located in The Wallace Center at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) holds a first edition of Aldus’ work. This copy possesses hand-coloring on eighty-four of the 172 woodcuts. I hypothesize that the coloring was done by a previous owner as a form of reader response. How does the reader response and color annotations communicate to other readers? To answer this question, I attempt to establish a provenance and document the reader response. Finally, I document the hand-colored illustrations in a spreadsheet, analyze, and interpret the pigment, selection of material that is colored, neatness and textual evidence to support the visual annotations. In conclusion, I give a complete contextual history to the printing of this copy of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and gain a sense of the book’s journey from printing to the present.

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Museum Studies (BS)


Juilee Decker

Advisor/Committee Member

Steven Galbraith


RIT – Main Campus