- Professional Experience:
Bookseller and printer, 1713; Syndic of Booksellers Corporation, 1735; Printer’s charter from king, 1754.
Didot was the first of four generations of important Parisian printers and publishers. His father owned a small printshop where François began his career as an apprentice. Eventually he opened a printing and publishing house of his own, À la Bible d’or, on the Quais des Grands-Augustins in Paris. His most important publication was the Histoire des voyages (1746-59), in 20 vols., the first 17 by his friend the Abbé Prévost (1697-1763). It was notable for its impeccable typography and elaborate illustrations. He published notable editions of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Xenophon, and Polybius, among others. His son François-Ambroise (1730-1804) was influenced by the modern pseudoclassical type designs of John Baskerville (1706-75), as was Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813) at the Vatican. François-Ambroise created a Didot font that neoclassical serif of high contrast. He also introduced the Didot system of 72 points to the pre-metric French inch of type. Each point was called a “Didot” and was the standard throughout Europe and America. Throughout its history the Didot house produced important and impeccable editions of classical authors.
EG 1 24 (1833) 541-4; Edmond Werdet, Bibliographiques sur la famille des Didots (Paris: E. Dentu,1864).
- Author: Ward Briggs