Close XYL-21 St Francis of Assisi

 [Southern Germany or Rhineland, c.1460]. Metalcut (dotted print) with Latin inscriptions.

 Schr. 2626 (= 2627). St Francis receives the stigmata on Mount La Verna. The saint is portrayed in his habit (with cord), tonsured, and with a halo, kneeling on the ground in a mountainous landscape, turning to the left and raising his hands to receive the stigmata, which are imprinted on his body by five rays, filled with drops of blood, emanating from the wounds of the crucified Christ, who appears as a heavily bearded, aged figure, on a four-winged cross in the upper left-hand corner. To his left, in the lower right-hand portion of the picture, Brother Leo kneels, clad in the scapular and clutching a book in his left hand. A banderole is inscribed with Christ’s words to St Francis explaining the significance of the stigmatization: ‘dedi stig(ma)ta ut sis (con)for(m)is fias’ [!] (with ‘fias’ for ‘filio’, Griese); not attested in this form in the various lives of Francis, in which the reporting of Christ’s words is explicitly forbidden, nor in the Fioretti. Beneath it, on a second banderole, the opening words of St Francis’s prayer: ‘Summe deus illu(m)ina tenebras cord(is) me[i]’; see the Oratio ante crucifixum, usual incipit: ‘Summe, gloriose Deus, illumina tenebras cordis mei . . .’, spoken by Francis before the crucifix in San Damiano, printed in K. Esser, Die Opuscula des hl. Franziskus von Assisi, Spicilegium Bonaventurianum, XIII (Grottaferrata, 1976), 356–7. Whereas the clothing worn by Francis and Leo, the mountains in the background, and the cross are executed in a decorative technique achieved by the use of several different punches (and for Leo’s garment combined with fine cross-hatching), the area in the background above the horizon is left completely blank, as it is also found in some other early German metalcuts of saints (e.g. St Bernardine, dated 1454, Schr.2567; St Barbara, Schr. 2553; St Christopher, Schr. 2569; St George, Schr. 2633). One of six recorded copies, the others in Dresden Kupferstichkab, Munich BSB (Clm 18741), New York NYPL (Weigel copy), Paris BnF, and Prague NL. An early handwritten note on the Paris copy attributes the metalcut to a certain ‘Bernard Milnet’ (or ‘Cuisnet’). Schreiber, who attributes this item to the Master of 1454 (or follower), describes the copies in Munich and Paris, where the image of St Francis is framed by an ornamental border, as representing the second and third states; the Munich border is identical with that used for metalcuts of St Bernardine, Schr. 2567, and St George, Schr. 2635, that in Paris with Schr. 2344b, most likely from the same workshop. Tobolka attributes the print to the Master of the Aachen Madonna.

ills. Schmidt, Denkmale, 102 (Munich copy); Bouchot II pl. 53 no. 100 (Paris copy); Schreiber, Meisterwerke, III pl. 132 (Paris copy); Blum, Origines de la gravure en bois, pl. XL, ill. 51 (Paris copy); M. Escherich, Einblattdrucke der prinzlichen Sekundogenitur-Bibliothek zu Dresden, Einblattdrucke des fünfzehnten Jahrhunderts, 48 (Strasbourg, 1916), pl. 12 (Dresden copy); Z. V. Tobolka, Einblattdrucke des 15. Jahrhunderts im Gebiete der čechoslovakischen Republik (Prague, [1928]), ill. 11 (Prague copy); W. Deluga, Einblattdrucke des 15. Jahrhunderts in der Nationalbibliothek in Prag (Prague, 2000), 121 (Prague copy); Schmidt, Gedruckte Bilder, ill. 152 (Munich copy); Bodleian Filmstrip Roll 245, no. 8.

refs. Weigel–Zestermann II 214–5 no. 322 (Southern Germany, 2nd quarter 15th century); Schreiber, Manuel, III 151 (no. 2626 = 2627); Bouchot I 211–12 no. 100 (‘Région du Rhône, 1440’); Schreiber, Handbuch, V 159; VII 77; Griese (in preparation); Nicholson no. 109.

copy Quarter-sheet. 205 × 135 mm (181 × 124 mm). Chain-lines horizontal. No watermark. Printed in black ink in a press on one side of the paper. The colouring, probably original, is in dark red, green, yellow, and pale brown. The upper left-hand portion of the image is damaged by water and by adhesion to the opposite page of the host volume. The green colouring of the tree on the right has oxidized and eaten into the paper. Pasted to the otherwise completely blank verso of fol. ai of [Gerardus van Vliederhoven], Cordiale quattuor novissimorum (Paris: Philippe Pigouchet, c.1490; C-450; chancery 4o; 205 × 135 mm), which is bound together with [Ps.-Bonaventura], Sermones quattuor novissimorum (B-449), [Jacobus de Gruytrode], Speculum aureum anime peccatricis (S-257), [Matthaeus de Cracovia], attrib. Thomas Aquinas, De modo confitendi et puritate conscientiae (M-155), and Alanus [de Insulis], Doctrinale altum seu Liber parabolarum (A-073), all printed in Paris c.1489–92 by Philippe Pigouchet (except for the last item by Pierre Levet, Paris c.1485/6). An added bifolium at the front of the book, preceding that with the metalcut, announces the dominant theme of the ‘Sammelband’ : ‘Memor esto quoniam mors non tardat’. A small worm-hole provides evidence that the metalcut was added at an early date. The colouring of the frontispiece to Douce 96(2) (B-449) and that of the initial letters added by hand at the beginning of all five printed books is quite distinct from that of the metalcut, suggesting that the latter is an older leaf reused in the 1490s to provide a frontispiece for the Parisian ‘Sammelband’.

Binding: For details of the late fifteenth-century (Flemish?) stamped and ruled binding see A-073.

Provenance: Franciscus de Ponte (c.1500). Ghent, Jesuits. Jean-François Van de Velde (1743–1823); sale on 5 Aug. 1833 (catalogue vol. 1, 1831, lot 4009). Francis Douce (1757–1834); armorial book-plate. Bequeathed in 1834. For details of the early owners of the host volume see A-073.

shelfmark: Douce 96(1), fol. aiv.