"[Illuminated leaf]", Hardouin, Gilles
Subject: Early Printing
Period: 1500 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
4.3 x 6.7 inches
10.9 x 17 cm
This leaf is from the brief transitional period when the new technology of printing with movable type was combined with the more labor intensive methods of hand painting. The earliest printers were trained in the manuscript tradition and incorporated the conventions of historiated initials and illustrations into their early work. At first they left those spaces blank for the illuminator to complete entirely by hand. Later they developed printing methods (using woodcuts or iron engravings) to decorate the leaves.
A wonderful leaf from a Book of Hours printed on vellum during the period of transition between the manuscript culture and the printing culture. It was printed by Gilles and Germain Hardouin who worked in Paris at the beginning of the sixteenth century. This hand-illuminated printed leaf is a perfect example of that conjunction, wherein both techniques were used. The captions under the images tell the story of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15. The main text is from Psalm 24, the Office of the Dead. The illuminated capitals are highlighted with red and blue, and finished with gold.