Catalog Archive
Auction 195, Lot 818

Superb Image of Adoration of the Magi in Contemporary Hand Color with Gilt Highlights

"[Book of Hours Leaf]", Hardouin, Gilles

Subject: Early Printing

Period: 1510 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

5.8 x 8.9 inches
14.7 x 22.6 cm
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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 superb hand-colored image shows the Adoration of the Magi with baby Jesus sitting on Mary's lap and one of the Magi, with his crown removed, bowing down to Jesus and holding his foot. The two other Magi stand behind him awaiting to bestow their gifts. The text below the image is part of Psalm 69 (in the Vulgate), and translates as:

O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.

The text continues on verso with: "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."

The verso of this vellum leaf includes initials that were hand painted in red, blue and burnished gold, surrounded by elaborate iron engravings that feature additional biblical scenes. This vellum leaf is from a Book of Hours printed on vellum by Gilles Hardouin for Germain Hardouin librayre demourant entre les deux portes du Palays en l’enseigne Saincte Marguerite (bookseller living between the two gates of the Palace at the sign of Saint Marguerite) of Paris.


Condition: A

Clean and bright with minor toning and soiling along the edges of the leaf.

Estimate: $950 - $1,200

Sold for: $700

Closed on 11/15/2023