Pictures in print


Prints for devotion

Prints to decorate manuscripts

Images for a calendar

Woodcuts used as book covers

A woodcut map for pilgrims

Woodcuts and metalcuts were a new medium for pictures in 15th-century Europe.

Many of the early woodcut items shown here from Bodleian Library collections are pasted into other books. Printed devotional images might be added to books as an aid to prayer, like those added to a prayer book, the Sarum Primer, by an English recusant family in Elizabethan times.

More unusual was the treatment of woodcuts in a manuscript made for the Cistercian convent of  Medingen, in Lower Saxony, during the first part of the 16th century, incorporating snippets of xylographic printing into the marginal decoration of a manuscript book.

Woodcut pictures of saints were used to decorate calendars. A single sheet of paper could have held over 20 tiny woodcut images of religious motifs.

Woodcut prints were sometimes used as book covers.

Woodcuts could provide large images such as the Rom Weg, a pilgrim map showing distances to Rome from many European cities.