Close XYL-22 St Francis of Assisi

 [Southern Germany, c.1490–1520]. Woodcut with inscription and monogram.

 Schr. 1432b. St Francis before the crucified Christ on Golgotha. The saint is portrayed in his habit (with cord), tonsured, and with a halo, kneeling in the foreground to the right, and with his hands, which are marked with the stigmata, outstretched in prayer. Before him the figure of Christ, with fluttering loincloth, affixed by three nails to the cross, which is inscribed ‘INRI’, blood dripping from his wounds. The cross stands upright in the ground; at its base lies a skull. An inscription in the foreground, consisting of a monogram and a date, reads ‘14 B-E 41’. Double-lined frame, surrounded by a thick black border. Unique copy. This iconography is not attested in other woodcut images of St Francis. The ‘B-E’ monogram is identical with that on a woodcut of St Sebastian, Schr. 1690a, dated by Schreiber not before, and probably later than 1480, but the technique of execution is quite different (see the reproduction in E. Vischer, Formschnitte des XV. Jahrhunderts in der Großherzogl. Hof- und Landesbibliothek zu Karlsruhe (Baden), Einblattdrucke des fünfzehnten Jahrhunderts, 27 (Strasbourg, 1912), pl. 12). Dodgson, believing the date to be retouched (?), interprets it as 1497, or possibly 1491. SC speculates that it might be read ‘1442’.

ills. Bodleian Filmstrip Roll 245, no. 12.

refs. Schreiber, Handbuch, VI 95 (monogram); Dodgson, Ashmolean, 31 (Bodl.5); Schreiber, Handbuch, VIII 85; Nicholson no. 108.

copy One sixteenth of a chancery sheet. 92 × 69 mm (woodcut 80 × 59 mm). Chain-lines horizontal. No watermark. Printed in black ink on one side of the paper in a press. Coloured in green, red, pale brown, and brownish yellow. The bottom left-hand corner is torn, but intact. Attached to the otherwise completely blank upper pastedown of a small-format preacher’s manuscript, on paper in 8o (148 × c.100 mm), written in Latin, and made up of about ten separate booklets evidently collected over a longer period and provided with additions. The manuscript displays a variety of German cursive hands typical of the period c.1380–1420. The first section contains an unattributed text of Nicolaus de Lyra’s commentary on the Passion gospels (see Stegmüller, Repertorium biblicum, 5896–5900, 8545), followed by an extensive collection of sermons by Franciscus de Mayronis OFM and others. A set of five sermons for the feast of St Francis (fols 155r–166v), the first three attributed in other manuscripts to Johannes Contractus OFM (see Munich BSB, Clm 28510), is prominently marked out with rubrics and marginalia and provides a context for the addition of the woodcut depicting St Francis, at a later date, at the front of the book. Some of the texts have marginal notes in Latin and German in the distinctive hand of the Würzburg Franciscan Johannes Sintram, e.g. fols 52v–54v, 106v, 156v, 158v, 164r–166v, 226v (register); some of the texts may well also be in his hand, for which see the plate in A. G. Watson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts c. 700–166 in The Department of Manuscripts, The British Library (London, 1979), II pl. 340.

refs. SC 21632; Douce Legacy, 168; N. F. Palmer, ‘Johannes Sintram OFM’, in VL 8 (1992), 1284–7, at 1285.

Binding: Inboard binding, probably from the 1440s. 152 × 113 × 65 mm. Tawed leather over sharply bevelled beech boards, now worn and grimed to pale brown. One copper-alloy catch plate to the upper board, a copper-alloy semicircular anchor plate to the lower board securing the stub of a tawed-leather strap, the strap and clasp now missing. An iron, five-link chain and staple are attached to the head-edge of the lower board. The chain staple traps a tawed leather patch on the inner face of the board which folds back across the staple to protect the textblock from rust marks. On the upper board a contemporary parchment label, identifying the contents. A large letter ‘Z’ (?), a ‘signature’ of the type used by Sintram on other manuscripts, is inscribed on the lower board. For an almost identical binding, also from the Würzburg Franciscan convent, see London BL, Add. MS. 44055. For the pastedowns, from a late eleventh or early to mid-twelfth-century sacramentary, leaves from which were also used in the binding of London BL, Add. MS. 44055, see Van Dijk V 5.

Provenance: Würzburg, Bavaria, Conventual Franciscans, Inventio crucis; identifiable, on the basis of the characteristic binding and numerous unsigned inscriptions in the margins, as a volume from the personal collection of the Würzburg Franciscan Johannes Sintram (c.1380–1450), and evidently, on the evidence of an inscription in London BL, Add. MS. 30049, one of 61 manuscripts which Sintram presented to the Franciscan convent in Würzburg in 1444 to be chained to four desks in the convent library. Anonymous sale (London: Evans, 8 Feb. 1832), lot 751; see XYL-7. Francis Douce (1757–1834). Bequeathed in 1834.

shelfmark: MS. Douce 58, upper pastedown.