Portrait bookplate – one of the oldest types of book characters – appeared after the stamp. The first engraved bookplate is considered the emblem of the knight Bernhardt von Rohrbach, made in 1460 by the German engraver Bartel Schön. The portrait ex-libris was not long in coming; the earliest surviving portrait ex-libris was made in 1498 for the Basel Bishop of Limberger. It is not necessary to doubt the time of appearance of this bookplate, it shows the date of its creation, no date was indicated on any of its predecessors.
The origin of portraiture dates back to ancient times. The oldest known attempt to portray a human face has 27 millennia, it was discovered in the cave of Villoner near the French city of Angouleme in the department of Charente. The word “portrait” originates from the outdated French word portraire – to write off someone’s image. The first who proposed to use the term “portrait” exclusively for “depicting a (concrete) human being” was the French art historian and official court historian of King Louis XIV Andre Felibien. Continue reading