Catalog Archive
Auction 196, Lot 743

Superb Image of the Crucifixion of Christ in Contemporary Hand Color with Gilt Highlights

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

Subject: Early Printing

Period: 1500 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

5.8 x 8.8 inches
14.7 x 22.4 cm
Download High Resolution Image
(or just click on image to launch the Zoom viewer)

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 Crucifixion of Christ. Mary Magdalen kneels on the ground and embraces the cross. To the left are Virgin Mary, Evangelist John, several holy women, and a thief bound to a cross. To the right are Stephaton and Longinus, as well as another thief bound to a cross. The city of Jerusalem can be seen in the background. The text below the image is part of Psalm 50 (in the Vulgate), and translates as:

Thou O Lord wilt open my lips. And my mouth shall declare thy praise. Incline unto my aid O God.

The text continues on verso with: "O Lord make haste to help me. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost. Even as it was in the beginning, and now, and ever: and world without end, Amen. Alleluia."

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

Minor toning and soiling along the edges of the leaf.

Estimate: $900 - $1,100

Sold for: $3,250

Closed on 2/7/2024