Bible Illustrations (Illustrated) (Gospel Illustrations by Albrecht Dürer Book 3)

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Visual Images as Exegetical Instruments, 1400-1700

The miniatures are thickly painted, so that an underlying woodcut, on quite a different subject, was sometimes utilised to furnish the artist with an idea for the grouping of the figures. Thus a cut from Ovid's Metamorphoses , representing Saturn devouring his children and a very unpleasing figure of Venus rising from the sea, was converted into a Holy Family by painting out the Venus and reducing Saturn's cannibal embrace to an affectionate fondling.

The Ecstatic Vision of History in a Dürer Woodcut

Thus Henry VII. Altogether these princely volumes are perhaps rather magnificent than in good taste. Almost all the French publishers of Books of Hours resorted to it—at first, while the illumination was carefully done, with very splendid effect, afterwards to the utter ruin of the beautiful designs which the colour concealed. Under Francis I. In a vellum copy of a French Bible printed by Jean de Tournes at Lyons in , there are over three hundred miniatures, and borders to every page. Even by [Pg 17] the middle of the seventeenth century the use of illumination had not quite died out in France, though it adds nothing to the beauty of the tasteless works then issued from the French presses.

By the expenditure of a vast amount of pains, a dull book is thus rendered both pretentious and offensive. In Italy, the difference between ordinary copies of early books and specially prepared ones, is bridged over by so many intermediate stages of decoration that we are obliged to confine our attention to one or two famous examples of sumptuous books. The Italian version of Pliny , made by Cristoforo Landino and printed by Jenson in , exists in such a form as one of the Douce books No. This copy has superb borders at the beginning of each book, and is variously supposed to have been prepared for Ferdinand II.

Still more superb are the three vellum copies of Giovanni Simoneta's Historia delle cose facte dallo invictissimo Duca Francesco Sforza , [Pg 18] translated like the Pliny by Cristoforo Landino, and printed by Antonio Zarotto at Milan in These copies were prepared for members of the Sforza family, portraits of whom are introduced in the borders.

The decoration is florid, but superb of its kind, and provoked Dibdin to record his admiration of the copy now in the Grenville Library as 'one of the loveliest of membranaceous jewels' it had ever been his fortune to meet with.

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For many years in a case devoted to specimens of illuminated printed books in the King's Library the British Museum used to exhibit vellum copies of the Aldine Martial of , and Catullus of , and side by side with them, printed respectively just twelve years later, and also on vellum, an Aulus Gellius and Plautus presented by Giunta, the Florentine rival of Aldus, to the younger Lorenzo de' Medici. The use of illumination in printed books was a natural and pleasing survival of the glories of the illuminated manuscript.

Its discontinuance was in part a sign of health as testifying to the increased resources of the printing press; in part a symptom of the carelessness as to the form of books which by the end of the seventeenth century had become well-nigh universal throughout Europe.

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So long as a few rich amateurs cared for copies of their favourite authors printed on vellum, and decorated by the hands of skilful artists, a high standard of excellence was set up which influenced the whole of the [Pg 20] book-trade, and for this reason the revival of the use of vellum in our own day may perhaps be welcomed.

It may be noted that the especially Italian custom of introducing the arms of the owner into the majority of illuminated designs left its trace in the blank shields which so frequently form the centre of the printed borders in Italian books from to Theoretically these shields were intended to be filled in with the owner's arms in colour, but they are more often found blank.

Two examples of their use are here shown, one from the upper border of the Calendar , printed at Venice in the first book with an ornamental title-page , the other from the lower border of the first page of text of the Trabisonda Istoriata , printed also at Venice in We may note also that the parallel custom of inserting the arms of the patron to whom a book was dedicated was carried on in Spain in a long series of title-pages, in which the arms of the patron form the principal feature. In England, also, a patron's coat was sometimes printed as one of the decorations of a book.

Thus on the third leaf of the first edition of the Golden Legend there is a large woodcut of a horse galloping past a tree, the device of the Earl of Arundel, the patron to whom Caxton owed his yearly fee of a buck in summer and a doe in winter. So, too, in the Morton Missal , printed by Pynson in , the Morton arms occupy a full page at the beginning of the book. Under Elizabeth and James I. In some cases where the leaf thus decorated has become detached, the arms have all the appearance of an early book-plate, and the Bagford example of Sir Nicholas Bacon's plate has endured suspicions on this account.

In this instance, however, the fortunate existence of a slight flaw in the block, which occurs also in the undoubtedly genuine gift-plate of , offers a strong argument in favour of its having been in the possession of Sir Nicholas himself, and therefore presumably used by him as a mark of possession. Lippmann found similar decorations in the edition of Lactantius , printed at Subiaco by the same firm. In this case the blocks probably belonged to the printers, but were used to decorate only a few copies.

Sommer's introduction to the facsimile and reprint of the English translations of Paris, , and London, Kegan Paul, As we have seen, the typical book during the first quarter of a century of the history of printing is one in which the printer supplied the place of the scribe and of the scribe alone. An appreciable, though not a very large, percentage of early books have come down to us in the exact state in which they issued from the press, with a blank space at their beginning for an illumination, blanks for the initial letters, blanks for the chapter headings, no head-lines, no title-page, no pagination, and no signatures to guide the binder in arranging the sheets in the different gatherings.

Our task in the present chapter is to trace briefly the history of the emancipation of the printer from his dependence on handwork for the completion of his books. We shall not expect to find this emancipation effected step by step in any orderly progression. Innovations, the utility of which seems to us obvious and striking, occur as if by hazard in an isolated book, are then abandoned even by the printer who started them, and subsequently reappear in a number of books printed about the same time at different places, so that it is impossible to fix the chronology of the revived fashion.

Albrecht Durer |

We have already noted how the anxiety of the earliest Mainz printers to rival at the very outset the best manuscripts with which they were acquainted, led them to anticipate improvements which were not generally adopted till many years afterwards. Among these we must not reckon the [Pg 24] use for the rubrics or chapter headings of red ink, which appears in the trial leaves of the line Bible, and was to a greater or less extent employed by Schoeffer in most of his books. Although red ink has appeared sporadically, and still does so, on the title-page of a book here or there, more especially on those which make some pretence to sumptuousness, its use in the fifteenth century was a survival, not an anticipation.

For legal and liturgical works it was long considered essential; for other books the expense of the double printing which it involves soon brought it into disfavour and has kept it there ever since.

The use of a colophon, or crowning paragraph, at the end of a book, to give the information now contained on our title-pages, dates from the Mainz Psalter of , and was continued by Schoeffer in most of his books. A colophon occurs also in the Catholicon of , though it does not mention the printer's name almost certainly Gutenberg. In many cases, however, no colophon of any sort appears, and the year and place of publication have to be deduced from the information given in other books printed in the same types, or from the chance entry by a purchaser or rubricator of the date at which the book came into or left his hands.

We may claim [Pg 25] colophons as part of the subject of this book, because they early received decorative treatment. Schoeffer prints them, as a rule, in his favourite red ink, and it was as an appendix to the colophon that the printer's device first made its appearance. Schoeffer's well-known shields occur in this connection in his Bible of No other instance of a device is known until about , when they became common, some printers, like Arnold ther Hoernen of Cologne, and Colard Mansion of Bruges, imitating Schoeffer in the modest size of their badges, while others, among whom some Dutch printers are prominent, made their emblem large enough, if need be, to decorate a whole page.

Of Schoeffer's coloured capitals enough has already been said. Their use spread slowly, for it was about this date that the employment of hand-painted initials was given a fresh lease of life, by the introduction of the printed 'director,' or small letter, indicating to the illuminator the initial he was required to supply.

The director had been used by the scribes, and in early printed books is frequently found in manuscript. It was, of course, intended to be painted over, but the rubrication of printed books was so carelessly executed that it often appears in the open [Pg 26] centre of the coloured letter. In so far as it delayed the introduction of woodcut letters, this ingenious device was a step backward rather than an improvement.

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In the order of introduction, the next addition to a printer's stock-in-trade which we have to chronicle is the use of woodcut illustrations. These were first employed by Albrecht Pfister, who in was printing at Bamberg. Like Schoeffer's coloured initials, Pfister's illustrated books form an incident apart from the general history of the development of the printed book, and it will be convenient, therefore, to give them a brief notice here, rather than to place them at the head of our next chapter.

They are six in number, or, if we count different editions separately, nine, of which only two have dates, viz. The only other copies known are those in the Spencer Collection, one of the Belial at Nuremberg, and a unique example of the undated Edelstein at Berlin. These four books contain altogether no less than cuts, executed in clumsy outline. One hundred and one of these cuts belong to the Edelstein , a collection of German fables written before The book which contains them is a small folio of 28 leaves, and with a width of page larger by a fourth than the size of the cuts.

To fill this gap, Pfister introduced on the left of the illustration a figure of a man. In the dated copy, in which the cuts are more worn, this figure is the same throughout the book; in the undated there are differences in the man's headgear, and in the book or tablet he is holding, constituting three different variations. In the Buch der vier Historien the cuts number 55, six of which, however, are repeated, making 61 impressions. In the impossibility of obtaining access to the originals, while the Spencer Collection was in the course of removal, the careful copy of one of these, made for Camus in , was chosen for repro [Pg 28] duction as likely to be less familiar than the illustrations from Pfister's other books given by Dibdin in his Bibliotheca Spenceriana.

The subject is the solemn sacrifice of a lamb at Bethulia after Judith's murder of Holofernes. The Biblia Pauperum is in three editions, two in German, the third in Latin; each consists of 17 printed leaves, with a large cut formed of five separate blocks illustrating different subjects, but joined together as a whole, on each page. The last book of Pfister's we have to notice, the Complaint of the Widower against Death , is probably earlier than either of his dated ones. It contains 24 leaves, with five full-page cuts, showing 1 Death on his throne, and the widower and his little son in mourning; 2 Death and the widower, with a pope, a noble, and a monk vainly offering Death gold; 3 two figures of Death one mounted pursuing their victims; 4 Death on his throne, with two lower compartments representing monks at a cloister gate, and women walking with a child in a fair garden,—this to symbolise the widower's choice between remarriage and retiring to a monastery; 5 the widower appearing before Christ, who gives the verdict against him, since all mortals must yield their bodies to Death and their souls to God.

Dürer, Albrecht (1471–1528)

The cuts in this book are larger and bolder than the other specimens of Pfister's work which we have noticed, but they are rude enough. After the introduction of woodcut illustrations, [Pg 30] the next innovation with which we have to concern ourselves is the adoption of the title-page. After this Arnold ther Hoernen of Cologne appears to have been the first printer lavish enough to devote a whole page to prefixing a title to a book. A facsimile is here given, from which we see that this 'sermon preachable on the feast of the presentation of the most blessed Virgin' was printed in at the outset of ther Hoernen's career.

The printer, however, seems to have understood no better than Schoeffer the commercial advantage of what he was doing, and the next title-page which has to be chronicled is another of the same kind, reading the 'Tractatulus compendiosus per modum dyalogi timidis ac deuotis viris editus instruens non plus curam de pullis et carnibus habere suillis quam quo modo verus deus et homo qui in celis est digne tractetur. Ostendens insuper etiam salubres manuductiones quibus minus dispositus abilitetur,' etc. Still, here also, the absence of an incipit, and of any following text must be taken as constituting a title-page.

This appears in all the three editions of a Calendar which they issued in Latin and Italian in , and in German in The praises of the Calendar are sung in twelve lines of verse, beginning in the Latin edition:—. Then follows the date, then the names of the three printers in red ink. This letterpress is surrounded by a border in five pieces, the uppermost of which shows a small blank shield see p.

The two gaps between these and the printers' names are filled up by two small blocks of tracery.

It is noteworthy that this charming design was employed by printers from Augsburg, the city in which wood-engraving was first seriously employed for the decoration of printed books. But the design itself is distinctly Italian in its spirit, not German. Like its two predecessors, the title-page of was a mere anticipation, and was not imitated.

The systematic development of the title-page begins in the early part of the next decade, when the custom [Pg 33] of printing the short title of the book on a first page, otherwise left blank, came slowly into use. Here, in the centre of the first page, we find a three-line paragraph reading:. Other countries were earlier than England both in the adoption of the label title-page and in filling the blank space beneath the title with some attempt at ornament.

In France the ornament usually took the form of a printer's mark, more rarely of an illustration; in Italy and Germany usually of an illustration, more rarely of a printer's mark. Until the first quarter of the sixteenth century was drawing to a close the colophon still held its place at the end of the book as the chief source of information as to the printer's name and place and date of publication.

The author's name, also, was often [Pg 34] reserved for the colophon, or hidden away in a preface or dedicatory letter.

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  5. Title-pages completed according to the fashion which, until the antiquarian revival by William Morris of the old label form, has ever since held sway, do not become common till about Perhaps the chief reason why the convenient custom of the title-page spread so slowly was that soon after the Augsburg printers began to imitate in woodcuts the elaborate borders with which the illuminators had been accustomed to decorate the first page of the text of a manuscript or early printed book.

    When they first appear these woodcut borders grow out of the initial letter with which the text begin, and extend only over part of the upper and inner margins. In other instances, however, they completely surround the first page of text, and this is nearly always the case with the very beautiful borders which are found, towards the close of the century, in many books printed in Italy. In these they are mostly preceded by a 'label' title-page. The use of borders to surround every page of text was practically confined [5] to books of devotion, notably the Books of Hours, whose wonderful career began in and lasted for upwards of half a century.

    Head-pieces are found in a few books, chiefly Greek, printed at Venice towards the close of the fifteenth century. In the absence of [Pg 35] any previous investigations on the subject, it is dangerous to attempt to say where tail-pieces first occur, but their birthplace was probably France. Pagination and head-lines are said to have been first used by Arnold ther Hoernen at Cologne in and ; printed signatures by John Koelhoff at the same city in The date of Koelhoff's book, an edition of Nider's Expositio Decalogi , has been needlessly held to be a misprint, though it is a curious coincidence that we find signatures stamped by hand in one edition of Franciscus de Platea's De restitutionibus , Venice, , and printed close to the text in the normal way in another edition issued at Cologne the following year.

    Bible Illustrations (Illustrated) (Gospel Illustrations by Albrecht Dürer Book 3) Bible Illustrations (Illustrated) (Gospel Illustrations by Albrecht Dürer Book 3)
    Bible Illustrations (Illustrated) (Gospel Illustrations by Albrecht Dürer Book 3) Bible Illustrations (Illustrated) (Gospel Illustrations by Albrecht Dürer Book 3)
    Bible Illustrations (Illustrated) (Gospel Illustrations by Albrecht Dürer Book 3) Bible Illustrations (Illustrated) (Gospel Illustrations by Albrecht Dürer Book 3)
    Bible Illustrations (Illustrated) (Gospel Illustrations by Albrecht Dürer Book 3) Bible Illustrations (Illustrated) (Gospel Illustrations by Albrecht Dürer Book 3)
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