Johannes Gutenberg, born in Mainz, Germany, invented the European technology of printing with movable type around 1447. This technical revolution was one of the most important developments of the modern era, spreading information and ideas far beyond what was possible with the previous method of woodblock printing and the slow production of handwritten manuscripts. His major work was the so-called ‘Gutenberg Bible’.
There is thought to be no portrait of Gutenberg from life. The Museum’s painting is similar to a copperplate engraving by André Thevet (Paris, 1584). Appropriately, it was given by a member of the Stationers’ Company: Paul Vaillant (1716–1802), 'an opulent and respectable bookseller in the Strand', who came from a family of Huguenot refugees which settled in London in 1686.
Where to see this painting?
Not all paintings are on display. If you want to see a particular painting, please contact the collection