"[Illuminated Leaf]", Kerver, Thielman
Subject: Early Printing
Period: 1500 (published)
Color: Hand Color
4 x 6.5 inches
10.2 x 16.5 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.
A rare vellum leaf from a Book of Hours, made during the transitional period when printing and illumination were combined. The printers at that time used the same type of letters that were used by the scribes, so the result looked like a manuscript. The initials, line fillers and border were then added by hand. This leaf includes numerous initials and line fillers, as well as a superb border decoration with leaves, flowers and scrolls. Beginning with the large initial "N" half-way down on the recto is Psalm 126, which translates as:
Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.
It is vain for you to rise before light, rise ye after you have sitten, you that eat the bread of sorrow. When he shall give sleep to his beloved,
behold the inheritance of the Lord are children: the reward, the fruit of the womb.
As arrows in the hand of the mighty, so the children of them that have been shaken.
Blessed is the man that hath filled the desire with them; he shall not be confounded when he shall speak to his enemies in the gate.
Light marginal toning and soiling.