Liber Sextus Decretalium with gloss of Johannes Andreae


Liber Sextus Decretalium with gloss of Johannes Andreae

German (Mainz), 1476

Language: Latin

height 41 cm

University of Oregon Library, Special Collections and Archives Rare Books
Edward Burgess Early Printed Book Collection, Burgess, 211x


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, pp. 8-9 - Quoted with permission

This printed page displays many remnants of the manuscript tradition [refers to page on display in exhibit from which this text was a catalog entry]. One of these is the complex page layout, with a small block of Boniface's text in the upper right (distinguished by a slightly larger typeface) set off from the commentary which fills the bulk of the page. This complex layout was relatively easy for scribes but rather cumbersome for printers because of the difficulties in composing the page. It was useful, however, for it provided a close connection between text and commentary; this utility kept this layout alive in printed books well into the sixteenth century.

From Schoffer's press came all of the running text, including the two lines in red. Added by hand were the drawings, the large initials in red and blue, and the small red and blue paragraph signs in the text. The drawing in the text block shows Pope Boniface VIII, author of these decretals (church laws). The tradition of depicting a text's author at the beginning of a book can be traced in manuscripts back to the fifth century A.D.; this program of illustration continued to be used after the invention of printing. In the lower margin is a subject whose relationship to the text is less clear: a stag chased by two hounds through a floral border. Such marginal drawings, often without apparent connection to the text, are another remnant of the late medieval manuscript tradition.