High School Visual Art Curriculum


This is George Washington's bookplate; the latin text translates to: "the end shows the deed."

Bookplates are an art genre that began when the first printed books were published in the 16th century.  They were intended as labels to show who owned a book.   At that time, only very wealthy people owned books. This art form went out of fashion when books became cheaper to make and replace.  Now bookplates are of interest to art collectors.
The earliest bookplates resembled family crests and were more about a family identity than an individual identity. But later, bookplates became more about individual identity and reflected the interests, social standing, and personal style of the book’s owner.

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Begin designing your own bookplate

Watch these videos to learn about the bookplate art and to understand how to creative work relies on a process.  Open the following links for the unit documentation. 

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The Process Journal

Bookplates show ownership and express personal identity

Bookplates show a unique identity.  Some people use mythological subjects, some use portraits, some use completely original images and other use the images of ordinary objects.  In all of these examples, you can find the voice of a person who is expressing his own interests and identity. 

What might you know about the people who used these bookplates below?

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Finished Student Bookplates