Special Collections has acquired two unique items of great interest for the study of manuscript production and illumination and the transition from handwritten manuscripts to printed books in the first century after the invention of printing. One of the new acquisitions is a Prayerbook in Latin and French, c. 1500-1520; the other is a printed Book of Hours, c. 1515-1530.
The Prayerbook has several distinct features: there are decorations inspired by the Gőttingen Model Book, produced in Mainz in the mid-15th century and used in manuscripts and early incunabula in the Lower Rhine; the text and illustrations are incomplete, enabling study of the work patterns in a medieval scriptorium; there is an initial of St.-Trond (infrequently depicted), suggesting an original provenance in the diocese of Liege; and linguistic evidence in the vernacular portions suggests that the Prayerbook or this part of it was made for a woman.
The woodcuts in the Book of Hours (printed in Paris by Gillet Hardouyn, ca. 1515) are heavily painted by hand and are accompanied by added gold architectonic frames. The volume is so lavishly illuminated that is was most likely done by an artist active in the production of illuminated manuscripts, rather than a “colorist” employed by printers to create something that looked like an illuminated manuscript.
The style resembles artists active in the workshop of Jean Pichore, who contributed designs for the large miniatures, which come from several different series of prints over different years. Most of the smaller woodcuts are adaptations by the Master of the Très petites Heures of Anne of Brittany.