"[Book of Hours Leaf]", Kerver, Thielman
Subject: Early Printing
Period: 1505 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
3.6 x 5.4 inches
9.1 x 13.7 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.
Superb vellum leaf from this important transitional period when books began to be printed from movable type, decorated with metal-cut illustrations and combined with hand-painted illuminated initials. It is printed on vellum in black and red with many initials hand painted in red, blue and gold. On the verso is a depiction of the Annunciation to the shepherds, with Bethlehem visible in the background. One shepherd is playing the flute while his dog appears to dance! The angel above the scene holds a banner with the well known words: "Gloria in altissimis deo et in terra pax" (Glory in the highest to God and on Earth peace). The recto has an ornamental border depicting scenes from the Old and New Testament with captions in red, as well as a mythical animal at top.
Thielman Kerver was a printer in Paris, who worked "in vico sancti Iacobi ad signum Vnicornis & ibidem venales habent" (in Saint Jacob's lane under the sign of the Unicorn where they are also for sale). He began printing Books of Hours in 1497 and continued until his death in 1522. His widow, Iolande Bonhomme, took over the firm, and continued to produce liturgical books until 1556. Kerver's work is much less common than that of his colleagues, Simon Vostre and the Hardouins.
Light soiling and toning.