Leaf on vellum from a printed Book of Hours with miniature of the Virgin of the Litanies.
$400 / ≈ €364
The miniature shows a Virgin in prayer, floating in air and surrounded by elements symbolizing her purity. This iconographic theme, the Virgin of the Litanies, developed in European art of the late 15th century and was one of the earliest attempts to represent the Immaculate Conception.
At this time in Paris, and in France as a whole, devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin was soaring, but it was thanks to the print that this particular iconography was so widely diffused.
The first such composition in this medium was provided by the atelier of Jean d’Ypres for the publisher Thielman Kerver, who as of 1497 was preparing a new cycle of illustrations for a printed Book of Hours (use of Rome).
From the press of the leading Parisian publisher and illuminator Germain Hardouyn, active from c.1500/1505 to 1539/1541. Between the end of the fifteenth century and the early sixteenth century Paris was the principal centre of production and trade for printed Books of Hours, which from a textual point of view followed the manuscript examples. Germain Hardouyn, together with his brother Gilles, printed almost exclusively Books of Hours, producing at least two or three editions per year. For special clients he produced handsome presentation copies of the Heures, printed on vellum and decorated with illuminations, like the copy offered here. It closely resembles an illuminated manuscript: it is printed on vellum in Gothic type, with colophon but no title-page, illustrated with illuminated woodcuts, and decorated with numerous hand-painted initials and line endings. Hardouyn continued to produce illuminated copies of Hours even after other Parisian publishers had abandoned this production.
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