"[Book of Hours Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Early Printing
Period: 1520 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
4.1 x 6.3 inches
10.4 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.
This leaf includes two large initials illuminated in red and gold, as well as a red and gold border. Starting with the large "S" on recto is the Stabat Mater Dolorosa, one of the great Latin hymns, which is based upon the prophecy of Simeon that a sword was to pierce the heart of His mother, Mary. The hymn translates as:
At, the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.
O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.
Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.
Minor marginal toning and soiling.