Catalog Archive
Auction 196, Lot 749

Hand-Colored Image of the Annunciation to the Shepherds

"[Book of Hours Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Early Printing

Period: 1550 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

4 x 6.3 inches
10.2 x 16 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 depicts the annunciation to the shepherds of the birth of Jesus. The shepherds are with their dogs around a fire, with their flocks of sheep in the background. Two of the shepherds point to an angel in the sky holding a banner that reads "Gloria in Excelsis." Below the scene is text that translates as:

"O God, make speed to save me; O Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning."

There are additional verses in Latin on verso. A lovely paper leaf from an Italian bible.


Condition: B+

Contemporary color with gilt hightlights and light soiling. Trimmed, as issued, with partial loss of the decorative border.

Estimate: $350 - $450

Sold for: $325

Closed on 2/7/2024