Piranesi Unbound
Carolyn Yerkes and Heather Hyde Minor
Princeton University Press, 2020
9.75 x 11.5 inches
Hardcover, 240 pages


“If you publish a book on the art of bookmaking, you’d better do it right. The pages should be smooth, the binding sturdy but not too tight. The images should be sharply reproduced and the layout generous. The endpapers should be invitingly colorful, like curtains before a play. In short, your book should be a work of art—otherwise, it undercuts its own message. Piranesi Unbound is a beautifully made book about a maker of beautiful books. Giambattista Piranesi (1720–78) is remembered mostly for his etchings, but art historians Carolyn Yerkes and Heather Hyde Minor make a strong—and charmingly wonkish—case that his true medium was the bound volume. They’re helped enormously by the designer Yve Ludwig, who strengthens every step of their argument with vivid closeups of the maestro’s work. Her gold-on-terracotta color scheme is the icing on the cake: Ms. Ludwig evokes Piranesi’s love for red chalk and Moroccan leather in a way that suggests the Roman genius might have a living heir.” —Jackson Arn, Wall Street Journal