Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hours in Print

Most people associate books of hours with illuminated medieval manuscripts, not printed books. Throughout the first fifty years of printing, manuscript copies of these prayer books continued to be made. The market demanded luxury items, richly illuminated with gold and hand painted miniatures on soft vellum. The new technology of movable type was not seen as appropriate for these monuments to personal piety.

That changed in 1500 when Paris printer Simon Vostre began creating elaborately illustrated printed books of hours on vellum. This one, printed between 1500 and 1505, contains 18 full-page woodcuts, 30 smaller ones, and historiated woodcut borders on each page. An elaborate dance of death runs though the office of the dead. To "finish" the book, and make it harmonious with his customers' expectations of a book of hours, Vostre had the capitals and line ornaments hand illuminated in gold, red, and blue.

You can see for yourself by asking for Rauner Incun 154.

No comments :

Post a Comment