Masterful Illumination from a Book of Hours Printed on Vellum
Type: Leaves & Fragments
Miniature of the “Massacre of the Innocents” from a Book of Hours Printed on Vellum by Gilles Hardouin. Single printed folio on vellum. Paris, ca. 1510: 221 mm x 143 mm (frame, 210 mm x 129 mm). Single column, 30 lines. Unfoliated. Decoration: This leaf exemplifies the transition from script to print, during which time printed Books of Hours were illuminated by artists of considerable skill to make them appear more like manuscript copies. It was simply a matter of painting over printed woodcuts, which themselves had often been design by leading artists of the day. This version of the “Massacre of the Innocents” is very complex. One sees soldiers slaughtering the children, the mothers either grieving or fighting back. Overlooking the gruesome carnage is King Herod, who perches on an elaborate throne. In the background to the left Joseph and the Virgin escape with the baby Jesus. This artist went far beyond his woodcut models and created a work of art in its own right. The sumptuous clothing is highlighted by liquid gold shading, and the vibrant colors are perfectly composed. On the verso are unpainted vignettes of children, wild men, a woman shearing a lamb, and the martyrdom of St. Sebastian. These images often had nothing whatsoever to do with the text. Text: opening of Vespers in the Hours of the Virgin, including Pss. 109 and 112 indicating Use of Rome. Provenance: Phillip Pirages, cat. 65 (listed at $3600); Alexander E. Vida of Grosse Pointe Farms, MI (d. 2018) and by descent. Condition: Excellent overall, with slight cockling as depicted.