"[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 six three-line initials. The text includes Psalm 37, one of the seven Penitential Psalms, beginning with the large initial "D" on recto, and translates (in part) as:
O Lord, do not reprove me in Thy wrath, nor in Thy anger chastise me.
For thy arrows are fastened in me: and Thy hand hath descended upon me.
There is no health in my flesh in the face of Thy wrath: there is no peace for my bones in the face of my sins.
For my iniquities are gone over my head: and are a heavy burden too heavy to bear.
My wounds are putrid and corrupt, in the face of my foolishness.
I am miserable and am bowed down: all the day long I walked in sadness.
For my insides are filled with mocking; and there is no health in my flesh.
Light staining along the fore-edge.