"[Book of Hours Leaf]", Kerver, Thielman
Subject: Early Printing
Period: 1500 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
4.9 x 8.1 inches
12.4 x 20.6 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 Parisian 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 a superb border decoration with leaves, flowers and scrolls. The text includes Psalm 37, one of the Seven Penitential Psalms; beginning with the large initial "D" on recto, the text translates as:
O Lord, rebuke me not in Thy furor; nor chastise me in Thy wrath.
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.
Greatly am I afflicted and humbled: I roared with the groaning of my heart.
Lord, before Thee are all my desires, and my groaning is not hidden from Thee.
Light soiling with several clean cuts at left, including one that enters the image at bottom left.