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The Typotectural Suites

Source collection


Antonio Basoli (1774–1848) was an Italian painter, interior designer, scenic designer and engraver, worked as a set designer and decorator for theaters around Bologna and decorated various palazzo’s. In 1839, Basoli published “Alfabeto Pittorico, ossia raccolta di pensieri pittorici composti di oggetti comincianti dalle singole lettere alfabetiche” (Pictorial Alphabet, a collection of pictorial thoughts composed of objects beginning with the individual letters of the alphabet), an album of twenty-five lithographs, in which every letter looks like a scene from another play.

Alfabeto Pittorico 2

Antonio Basoli’s Alfabeto Pittorico is a series of architectural-alphabetical engravings from 1839 — twenty-four letters and an ampersand. Basoli, a painter and designer from Bologna, created sets and curtains for the theater, and this alphabet has a lot of stagecraft to it. S is carved into a treacherous cliff, at the foot of which is a grave with a mourner.

Alphabet Picturesque

Each plate in the series Alphabet picturesque, (1843) by Jean Baptiste de Pian has a large letter of the alphabet fully incorporated as part of the internal decoration or architectural structure of various buildings, set in realistic landscapes. The buildings range from traditional European domestic architecture to exotic Babylonian and Egyptian temples, Moorish mosques, Indian porticoes adorned with stone elephants, and a Chinese palace. The letters also correspond with architectural elements in the scenes. In one illustration, the letter F forms the shape of a kitchen hearth, which is “Feuerstätte” in German.

Le Premier livre des petits enfants

Le Premier livre des petits enfants, a complete illustrated alphabet by Theophile Schuler. Jules Théophile Schuler (1821 – 1878) was a French painter and illustrator in the Romantic style, notably known for his illustrations of several works by Jules Verne, Victor Hugo and Erckmann-Chatrian. The Schuler alphabet invites you to see the letters in the images of the daily life of a typical rural environment: the winepress, the country guard, the schlitte, the laundry, the goat-keepers, the horseshoes and the grinders.

Anno's Alphabet

Anno’s Alphabet by Mitsumasa Anno is a unique ABC book and a visual treat full of interesting details with trompe l’oeil paintings and visual puns. Since the 1960s, Anno has illustrated hundreds of books. Inspired by the traditions of Europe and Japan, his varied works are characterized by a sense of curiosity, warmth and playful sense
of humour.


French poet Arthur Rimbaud’s search for a universal language is a defining feature of his work and is particularly manifest in “Voyelles” (1884; translated as “Vowel Sonnet,”). The very idea of coloring the vowels, of composing a poem from their subjective associations, speaks volumes for Rimbaud’s involvement with the minutiae of language and for his desire to challenge and reconstruct accepted idioms. When the sonnet was published in
‘Les Hommes d’ajourd’hui’ Manuel Luque made an amusing caricature of
Rimbaud painting the vowels.


Letterel lives with Letterpoes (Lettercat) in a letter house. He loves letters. Cuts letters, looks at letters and dreams letters. And he writes letters! He conjures up a beautiful colorful world where the imagination has no limits. In the picture book ‘Lettersoep’ by Harriet van Reek, the characters consist of letter forms: Letterel is a tall, thin man with shoe-noses pointing upwards as the lower curl of the l. He lives with a cat who has j’s as legs and v’s as ears. They live in a world full of letters.

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