"[Book of Hours Leaf]", Kerver, Thielman
Subject: Early Printing
Period: 1505 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
4.3 x 6.3 inches
10.9 x 16 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. Both the recto and verso have an ornamental border depicting mythical animals. The larger metal cuts on recto depict Joseph being lowered into the pit by his brothers, the descent of the Cross with Jesus and his mother, and Jonah being thrown into the sea (and into the mouth of the whale). The verso features illustrations of David killing Goliath, Jesus descending into hell, and Samson killing a lion.
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 toning and soiling.