"[Illuminated Leaf]", Hardouin, Gilles
Subject: Early Printing
Period: 1518 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
4.5 x 7.3 inches
11.4 x 18.5 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.
This leaf is from a Book of Hours printed on vellum by Gilles Hardouin for Germain Hardouin librayre demourant entre les deux portes du Palays en l’enseigne Saincte Marguerite (bookseller living between the two gates of the Palace at the sign of Saint Marguerite) of Paris. This leaf is from the transitional period when the new technology of printing with movable type was combined with the more labor intensive methods of hand painting. Illuminated manuscript books of hours were costly to make, and early printers realized the commercial value in printing larger quantities of illustrated books of hours at a lower cost. These printers tried to make their books of hours appear as similar to the manuscript books as possible, even going so far as to mimic the red lines scribes used to keep their text uniform.
This exquisitely crafted vellum leaf is highlighted by illuminated capitals painted in red, blue and liquid gold. Starting from the third line on the recto, the text translates as:
Thou, O Lord, wilt open my lips.
And my mouth shall declare thy praise.
Incline unto my aid, O God.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father.