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)

Department, Program, or Center

Department of Performing Arts and Visual Culture (CLA)


Juilee Decker

Advisor/Committee Member

Steven Galbraith


RIT – Main Campus