"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Early Printing
Period: 1500 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
5.1 x 7.8 inches
13 x 19.8 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 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 leaf has numerous initials that were hand painted in red, blue and gold, including several two and three-line initials. The text on verso includes a prayer for martyrs from the Common of Saints, which translates as:
O God, who dost grant unto us to celebrate the heavenly birthday of Thy holy Martyrs N. and N.: grant that we may rejoice in their fellowship in everlasting bliss. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
Light marginal toning and soiling.