Book of Hours, Use of Rome


Book of Hours, Use of Rome

French (Paris), ca. 1527

woodcut print illustrations painted over in gold and colors on vellum
height 12 cm

University of Oregon Library, BX2080.A2 1510


Diebold, William. The Illustrated Book in the Age of Printing: Books and Manuscripts from Oregon Collections. Portland, OR: Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, 1993, p. 13 - Quoted with permission

Books of Hours such as this are one of the strangest hybrids of the transition from scribal to print culture. Printed almost 75 years after Gutenberg, this book still has a remarkable number of characteristics of a manuscript, most notably the fully painted miniatures. These are present, just us they would have been a century earlier, even though the book was supplied with a full complement of woodcut illustrations, each one of which was rather crudely overpainted. In this miniature of the arrest of Christ the complex printed border of the woodcut is just visible. The reasons for this overpainting, which is common in printed Hours, is not entirely clear. The text of the Book of Hours is conservative, having changed little over the centuries, and this conservatism may underlie the attempt to make the printed book look like an "old-fashioned" manuscript with painted miniatures. Similarly, all of the printed Books of Hours in this exhibition are like manuscripts in being on parchment, even though that support was otherwise rarely used for printed books. This imitation of manuscripts in printed books suggests that by 1500 the hand-made book was considered more luxurious and desirable than a printed text.