Close XYL-13 Christ as Man of Sorrows (‘Image of Pity’)

 [England (Syon Abbey?), c.1499]. Woodcut, with English inscription.

 Schr. 858. Christ as Man of Sorrows, half-length, with flowing hair, eyes open, his head inclined to the right, arms crossed, showing the wounds on his hands and in his side, flanked by the lance and the reed and sponge, and surrounded by a border of 22 compartments with instruments of the Passion. The inscription on the tablet over the cross reads ‘I.N.R.I’. The panel beneath the Man of Sorrows contains the English text of an indulgence extending over six lines and granting a remission of 32,755 years for the performance of a devotion before the image: ‘To them that before this yma=|ge of pyte deuoutly say fyue | Pater noster fyue Aueys & a Cred=|o pytously beholdyng these armes | of xps passyon ar graunted xxxii | M.vii C.&.lv. yeres of pardon’. All enclosed in a single-lined frame. See Bradshaw, ‘Image of Pity’, 89, who records this text accompanying a Man of Sorrows prefixed to the Psalms of the Passion in Caxton’s c.1487 edition of the Primer. The woodcut is a unique copy.

ills. Dodgson, ‘English Devotional Woodcuts’, pl. XXXV (c); Hodnett (‘Additions and Corrections’), fig. 17; Dodgson, English Woodcuts, fig. 9; Illustrated Bartsch (Supplement), 163.858; Duffy, ‘Devotion’, fig. 4; Duffy, Altars, fig. 85; Image of Christ, ed. G. Finaldi (London, 2000), 152–5 (with plate); Bodleian Filmstrip Roll 245, no. 1.

refs. Schreiber, Manuel, I 247; Schreiber, Handbuch, II 45; Dodgson, Ashmolean, 34 (Bodl.20); Dodgson, ‘English Devotional Woodcuts’, 96 and 99 (no. 7); Dodgson, English Woodcuts, 8; STC 14077c.13; Hodnett no. 2513; Image of Christ, 152–5; Duffy, ‘Devotion’, 26; Nicholson no. 82.

copy Chancery half-sheet. 225 × c.180 mm (woodcut 222 × 140 mm). Chain-lines vertical. The watermark is a unicorn, identifiable as the same stock of paper as that used by Wynkyn de Worde in his third edition of the Quattuor sermones, datable to [1499] (unique copy in London BL, Duff 318); ex informatione Paul Needham. Printed in black ink in a press on one side of the paper. Uncoloured. The English text has been scored through. The lower part torn and repaired.

 One of a set of three independently produced woodcuts, XYL-30 (Pietà), XYL-13 (Christ as Man of Sorrows), and XYL-19 (Death and the Last Judgement, with an inscription relating to Syon Abbey), forming the opening leaves of MS. Rawl. D. 403. The printed pages are the versos of fols 1–3, and stubs of these three leaves can be found at the end of the first quire of the manuscript, between fols 16 and 17. MS. Rawl. D. 403 is a paper manuscript in 4o (225 × 160 mm), written by a single hand datable on palaeographic grounds c.1490–1510, containing as the main text an otherwise unrecorded Latin devotional treatise entitled Liber mortis et vite (fols 4r–103v, incipit: ‘Quomodo infirmi se occupent. vel se occupare debent. aut qualiter se exerceant. docemur vtique per exempla sanctorum patrum. . . .’), which was copied by a deacon or brother resident in the Birgittine convent of Syon: ‘per Johannem cuius habitacio est in syon’ (fol. 103v). Corrections and additions suggest the manuscript may be an autograph. That the text was composed for the use of Birgittines is suggested by the fact that St Birgitta is placed first in the list of saints after Mary (fol. 66r). It is followed by two shorter devotional treatises, also in Latin, the Effusio languentis spiritus in pium Jesum (fols 104r–108v, incipit: ‘Ueni mi iustissime iudex. veni mi dilectissime rex. . . .’) and the Meditationes passionis domini nostri Jhesu Cristi ad omnes horas cum orationibus (fols 109r–123r, incipit: ‘Hora matutina meditare ac considera magestatem excelsam domini nostri ihesu christi. atque eius humilitatem profundam . . .’). The paper stocks used for the three woodcuts are different (that for the present item being the only one with an identifiable and datable watermark), but all three are printed on half-sheets of fine paper, whereas the manuscript is on thicker paper and chancery 4o. The rectos of the printed leaves are inscribed in the same hand as the rest of the manuscript with Latin prayers, relating thematically to the facing woodcuts, as well as to the content of the work that follows, suggesting that they are not later additions, but rather part of the volume as originally conceived. Fol. 1r has a Latin devotion to St Birgitta (incipit: ‘<G>aude sponsa ihesu cristi. o quam felix que fuisti digna tali nomine. Gaude christo tibi teste. sancte prodis et honeste claro regum germine . . .’; ‘<D>eus qui ecclesiam tuam per beatam birgittam sacris illuminare dignatus es . . .’); whereas the ‘Gaude’ is not otherwise recorded, the concluding prayer can be found in the The Bridgettine Breviary of Syon Abbey. From the MS. with English Rubrics F.4.11 at Magdalene College, Cambridge, ed. A. J. Collins, Henry Bradshaw Society, 96 (London, 1969), 32 and 139. These texts are likely to have been related to a preceding page now lost and possibly containing a further woodcut. Fol. 2r, facing the Pietà (XYL-30), is inscribed with a Latin hymn to the Virgin: ‘<A>ue mundi spes maria aue mitis aue pia aue plena gratia. Aue virgo singularis’ (closely related to Chevalier, Rep. hymn. 1974; AH 32,38 no. 24). Fol. 3r, facing the Man of Sorrows (XYL-13), is appropriately inscribed with the Seven Prayers of St Gregory (incipit: ‘domine ihesu criste adoro te in cruce pendentem . . .’, as printed by Leroquais, Livres d’heures, II 345); see Duffy, Altars, 239–40; G. Roth, ‘Die Gregoriusmesse und das Gebet “Adoro te in cruce pendentem” im Einblattdruck. Legendenstoff, bildliche Verarbeitung und Texttradition am Beispiel des Monogrammisten d. Mit Textabdrucken’, in Einblattdrucke des 15. und frühen 16. Jahrhunderts. Probleme, Perspektiven, Fallstudien, ed. V. Honemann and others (Tübingen, 2000), 277–324. The woodcut of Death and the Last Judgement (XYL-19) faces the opening page of the Liber mortis et vite, where in chapter 1 the sick are urged to remember the Last Judgement.

Binding: Late nineteenth-century or early twentieth-century inboard hollow-back binding made for the Bodleian Library. 235 × 168 × 23 mm. Half-bound in maroon morocco, sided with black cloth, over millboard. The edges of the textblock are untrimmed and retain their deckles to the tail and fore-edges. The manuscript was originally bound in a limp parchment wrapper inscribed on the upper cover ‘Mariale’ and ‘Liber mortis et vite’. The wrapper is now folded and sewn into the binding after fol. 123. The wrapper has four sets of irregular holes across the spine indicating a long-stitch structure. The upper cover extended some 45 mm beyond the fore-edge to provide a fore-edge flap.

Provenance: Syon Abbey, Middlesex, Birgittines. Richard Rawlinson (1690–1755). Bequeathed in 1755. Although the manuscript appears to have been made for Syon, it is not clear how long it remained there. There is no ex-libris, and no evidence to attribute it specifically to the men’s or the women’s library (de Hamel, ‘Syon Abbey’, 120). This is one of several cases in which printed devotional materials are known to have been incorporated into the early books, both manuscript and print, of Syon Abbey; see C. de Hamel, ‘The Medieval Manuscripts of Syon Abbey, and their Dispersal’, in Syon Abbey. The Library of the Bridgettine Nuns and their Peregrinations after the Reformation, with an introduction by J. M. Robinson, Roxburghe Club ([London], 1991), 48–133, at 100; M. C. Erler, ‘Pasted-in Embellishments in English Manuscripts and Printed Books c.1480–1533’, Library, 6th series, 14 (1992), 185–206, at 196.

shelfmark: MS. Rawl. D. 403, fol. 2v.