Alfred W. (Alfred William) Pollard.

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OLD PICTURE BOOKS



OLD PICTURE BOOKS

WITH OTHER ESSAYS ON
BOOKISH SUBJECTS, BY

ALFRED W. POLLARD



l



LONDON: METHUEN AND CO
36 ESSEX STREET, W.C. 1902






^-



To JOHN MACFARLANE.

Librarian of the Imperial Library^ Calcutta.

My dear Macfarlane, —

Just as you had completed a valuable monograph
on that enterprising French publisher Antoine Verard, you
icere rchirled- away to India to organise a great library at
Calcutta. I have seen it stated in the neii'spapers , on high
authority y that your Imperial Library is to be a second
British Museum, but I am afraid that, even when fully
developed by your energy and skill, it icill contain no
Verards. I hope, hoivever, that when you come over on
furlough you "will resume the pleasant studies we used to
pursue together, and that you may even be induced to read
another paper before the learned Society of which you were
once my fellaw secretary. To keep alive your interest in
old books is thus a reasonable pretext for dedicating to you
these bookish essays. My real hope is that as they stand
on your book-shelf they may remind you of the original
British Museum and of the many friends you left behind
here after your seventeen years' work amid our Bloomsbury

fogs.

Faithfully yours,

Alfred \V. Pollard



NOTE

The paper on ' England and the Bookish Arts' originally-
appeared as an introduction to ' The English Bookman's
Library' (Kegan Paul and Co.). The other Essays
are reprinted from ' Bibliographica,' 'The Connoisseur,'
'The Guardian,' 'The Library,' 'The King's College
School Magazine,' 'Longman's Magazine,' ' Macmillan's
Magazine,' 'The Newbery House Magazine,' 'The
Pageant,' and the 'Transactions' of the Bibliographical
Society. Separate acknowledgment of its source is made
at the beginning of each paper, but the author desires
here to thank the Publishers and Editors to whom he is
indebted for permission to reprint. All the essays hav^e
been revised, and some of the illustrations appear here
for the first time.



CONTENTS



OLD PICTURE BOOKS .....

FLORENTINE RAPPRESENTAZIONI AND THEIR PICTURES

TWO ILLUSTRATED ITALIAN BIBLES

A BOOK OF HOURS . . , .

THE TRANSFERENCE OF WOODCUTS IN THE FIFTEENTH AND
SIXTEENTH CENTURIES .....

ES TU SCHOLARIS? ......

ENGLISH BOOKS PRINTED ABROAD

SOME PICTORIAL AND HERALDIC INITIALS

ENGLAND AND THE BOOKISH ARTS

THE FIRST ENGLISH BOOK SALE ....

JOHN DURIE'S 'REFORMED LIBRARIE-KEEPER ' .

WOODCUTS IN ENGLISH PLAYS PRINTED BEFORE 1660 .

HERRICK AND HIS FRIENDS ....

A POET'S STUDIES ......

PRINTERS' MARKS OF THE FIFTEENTH AND SIXTEENTH
CENTURIES ......

THE FRANKS COLLECTION OF ARMORIAL BOOK-STAMPS .



PAGE

3
II

37

51

7o

99

106

124

146

159
172

183
200
216

227
242



Bv Alice Pollard



A QUEEN ANNE POCKET-BOOK
WHY MEN don't MARRY



260
273




Tin; SIEGE Ol' NOVA TROJA. FROM GKONINGER'S 'VIRGIL': bTRASSBUKG, I502



OLD PICTURE BOOKS

IN the edition of Virgil published by Griininger at
Strassburg in 1502, Sebastian Brant boasted that
the illustrations to it, whose preparation he had
superintended, made the story of the book as plain to the
unlearned as to the learned :

' Hie legere historias commentaque plurima doctus,
Nee minus indoctus perlegere ilia potest.'

The boast was no ill-founded one, though it must be
granted that Virgil would have been puzzled by the
cannon here shown as employed in the siege of Nova
Troja, and similar medicevalisms abound throughout the
volume. Coming almost at the end of the first series of
early illustrated books, the Virgil of 1502 thus exemplifies
two of the chief features to which they owe their charm :
the power of telling a story and the readiness to import
into the most uncongenial themes some touches of the
life of their own day. But by Brant's time illustration
was already losing its pristine simplicity. It could hardly
be otherwise when such a man as Brant, who had just
gained a European reputation by his ' Narrenschiff,' was
concerning himself with it. At the outset it had been
rather a craft than an art, alike in Germany, in Italy, in
the Netherlands, and in France, and, if w^e do not add
England to the list, it is only because in England the
workmen, though naive enough in all conscience, were



'^'i/' .' :• OLD PICTURE BOOKS

so entirely untrained that to call them craftsmen would be
too great a compliment. But whether skilled or unskilled,
the woodcutters' objects were everywhere the same : to
render his design with the greatest possible simplicity of
outline, to tell the story with a directness which often
verges on caricature, and to keep his pictures in decorative
harmony with the type-page on which they were to appear,
printed with the same pull of the press, with the same
excellent ink, on the same excellent paper.

In papers brought together in this volume the reader
is asked to look at the woodcuts to two old Italian
Bibles, at the beautiful cuts which make the Florentine
Miracle Plays or Rappresentazioni so highly esteemed,
at the illustrations to French editions of the ' Hours of
the Blessed Virgin,' and at some examples of the curious
transformations and vicissitudes which old wood blocks
and the designs for them went through ere yet either
cliches or photographic processes had been invented.
The reproductions which accompany these and other
articles will give a better idea of these Old Picture Books
to those who do not already know them than could be
conveyed by any verbal descriptions. Here it may suffice
to emphasise one or two points which are often over-
looked.

In the first place, it may have been noticed that not
only do we speak of w^oodcuts, a common enough word,
but also of woodcutters, a term which, until Sir Martin
Conway used it in the title of his 'The Woodcutters of
the Netherlands,' where it was ridiculed at the time as
suggesting the stalwart workmen who cut down trees,
was hardly ever employed in this sense. It cannot be
denied that the use of the word sometimes lands us in
incongruitieij of phrase ; but inasmuch as there is no



OLD PICTURE BOOKS 5

evidence of the graver having been used in woodcuts
before the eighteenth century, it is clearly wrong to
speak of the early craftsmen as engrav^ers, and it is only
fair in estimating their performance to remember that
they worked with no better tool than a knife.

As regards the material they used, it was no doubt as a
rule wood ; but experts are agreed — I know not on what
evidence — that instead of the blocks cut across the grain
adopted by the modern engraver, they used wood sawn
perpendicularly down the grain, as in an ordinary plank.
It is certain, however, that in addition to wood some soft
kind of metal, spoken of in one place (the list of border-
cuts in one of Du Pre's ' Horae ') as ciiivre^ or copper, but
generally identified with pewter, was also used. This use of
metal encouraged in some of the French ' Books of Hours,'
notably in those of Philippe Pigouchet, a finer and closer
method of work than we can believe was at that time
possible on wood ; but the general handling was precisely
the same, and it is often only when we see a thin line
bending instead of breaking, as wood did, that we know
for certain that the craftsman was working on metal. For
this reason the term woodcut is often applied to metal
cuts worked in the style of wood as well as to woodcuts
properly so called, and though doubtless reprehensible,
the confusion is not nearly so misleading as that between
cuts and engravings.

A third fact has already been emphasised, namely, that
the makers of the woodcuts, and I think we may add the
designers of them also, never put their names to their
work or troubled themselves in any way to preserve their
individuality. Save for the ' Nuremberg Chronicle ' of
Hartmann Schedel — a large book and a fine one, but of
no unusual artistic merit — the cuts in which are associated



6 OLD PICTURE BOOKS

with the names of Wohlgemuth (the father-in-law of
Diirer) and Pleydenwurff, I do not know of any single
illustrated book of the fifteenth century the designs in
which can be attributed to a known artist. In Venetian
cuts towards the end of the century it is not uncommon to
find a small initial letter, such as the b in the Giunta
Bibles, the F of a Livy, the N of an Ovid, appearing on
some of the blocks ; but, after much learned disquisi-
tion, it is now generally agreed that this is merely the
mark of a woodcutter's workshop. As to the organisation
of these workshops, we have, unhappily, no information.
All that we know is that at Augsburg, where, before the
introduction of printing, woodcutting had been exten-
sively employed for playing-cards and figures of saints,
the cutters had formed themselves into a flourishing guild,
and were able to insist that the making of the illustrations
for books should be left in their hands as a condition of
the printers being allowed to use them.

The only other point which it seems necessary to
mention is that illustrated books in the fifteenth century
were intended to attract very much the same class of
purchasers for whose benefit they are produced at the
present day.

People often run away with one of two contradictory
ideas, that all early books were very costly and only
prepared for princes, or that illustrated books were then
the Books of the People, and therefore possessed all sorts
of beautiful properties not discoverable in the bourgeois
volumes we get at Mudie's. Of course both these ideas
have some foundation. Profusely illuminated manuscripts,
whether Prayer- Books or Romances, were literally a
luxury reserved for princes ; but then a profusely illumi-
nated manuscript is not only a book, it is a picture-gallery



OLD PICTURE BOOKS 7

as well, and even now, when prices have risen to what
seem extravagant heights, the fine manuscripts which can
be bought for from one to two thousand pounds are pro-
bably the cheapest art-treasures on the market. But until
quite the end of the fifteenth century princes cared very
little for printed books, thinking them rather cheap and
common, even to the extent of refusing to have them in
their libraries. More than this, rich connoisseurs gener-
ally, and not merely princes, when they patronised printed
books at all, preferred them quite plain, finely printed, but
with no pictures in them. They even preferred them
without any printed initial letters, no doubt telling each
other it was so much nicer to have the initials prettily
painted in by hand, — just as there are some people who
prefer books in paper covers, because they can have them
bound as they please. We all know that most paper-
cover books melt away and never get bound at all ; and
most of the books which were to have painted initials
remain to this day with the blank places still unfilled.
But it was a very pretty theory, and it shows clearly
enough that the rich people who held it cared nothing for
printed ornaments, and a fortiori nothing for printed
illustrations.

On the other hand, though some of the books we are
concerned with were probably sold for less than sixpence,
sixpence in the fifteenth century was worth five or six
shillings now, and, in fact, from five shillings to five
guineas very fairly represents the range of prices of early
illustrated books. Thus the cheapest of them, the little
Florentine chap-books, are not really the equivalent of
our modern penny dreadfuls, but rather of the pretty gift-
books with which publishers tempt us every Christmas.
There was no fifteenth century equivalent to our modern



8 OLD PICTURE BOOKS

penny dreadfuls, because the sort of people who now read
penny dreadfuls then read nothing at all. As soon as
they began to read, plenty of bad pictures were produced
to please them.

If this prologue did not already threaten to be too long,
it would be interesting to advance the theory that the
great body of readers in every civilisation has always been
drawn from much the same class as at present, and also
that the price of books, when we allow for the different
value of money, has varied equally little. In any case, it
should be understood that early illustrated books were
neither very rare nor very miraculously cheap, but cost
about the same as the illustrated books of to-day, and
were intended for about the same class of readers.

Up to a few years ago it was possible for quiet folk of
this class to possess some specimens of the old books as
well as of the new. Unfortunately during the last quarter
of a century, and more especially during the last decade of
it, the collecting of them has become a hobby which can
only be pursued by the very rich. Save perhaps the first
editions of masterpieces of our own literature, no books
have advanced so rapidly in market-value as those with
illustrations. A recent lawsuit has brought into promi-
nence the case of the ' Ouatriregio ' of Bishop Frezzi, a
copy of which, bought some thirty years ago for sixty
guineas, has now to be valued by experts, who will
apparently have to decide whether its present worth
should be fixed as nearer to five hundred or eight hundred
pounds, the two last prices at which copies are believed
to have changed hands. The little Florentine * Rappre-
sentazioni,' mostly with only a single cut on their title,
the subject of my first paper, used to be purchasable for a
few shillings apiece ; they have now to be bought with



OLD PICTURE BOOKS 9

almost as many bank-notes, and a good example of a
French ' Book of Hours ' is supposed to be cheap at a
hundred and twenty pounds. It is well that beautiful
books should be honoured, but book-lovers may not
unreasonably regret the days when it was still possible for
a man of moderate means to possess them.




IKOM THE ' KAI'1'KESENTAZION'K Dl S. ORSOLA,' I554



FLORENTINE RAPPRESENTAZIONI ii



FLORENTINE RAPPRESENTAZIONI
AND THEIR PICTURES^




BETWEEN the twelfth
century and the sixteenth
nearly every country
in Europe possessed
some sort of a religous
drama, which in many
cases has lingered on,
nearly or quite, to the
present day. Even in
England — in Yorkshire,
in Dorset and Sussex,
and perhaps in other
counties — the old Christ-
mas play of S. George
and the Dragon is not
quite extinct, though in its latter days its action has been
rendered chaotic by the introduction of King George iii.,
Admiral Nelson, and other national heroes, whose relation
to either the Knight or the Dragon is a little difficult to
follow. The stage directions, which are fairly numerous
in most of the old plays which have been preserved,
enable us to picture to ourselves the successive stages of
their development with considerable minuteness. In

^ Reprinted, by leave of the editor, from 'The Pageant.'



12 OLD PICTURE BOOKS

some churches the ' sepulchre ' is still preserved to which,
in the earliest liturgical dramas, the choristers advanced,
in the guise of the three Maries, to act over again the
scene on the first Easter-day ; while of that other scene,
when at Christmas the shepherds brought their simple
offerings, a cap, a nutting-stick, or a bob of cherries to
the Holy Child, a trace still exists in the representation,
either by a transparency or a model, of the manger of
Bethlehem, still common in Roman Catholic churches,
and not unknown in some English ones. When the
scene of the plays was removed from the inside of the
church to the churchyard, we hear of the crowds who
desecrated the graves in their eagerness to see the per-
formance ; and later still, when the craft -guilds had
burdened themselves with the expenses of their prepara-
tion, we have curious descriptions of the waggons upon
which each scene of the great cycles ' of matter from the
beginning of the world to the Day of Judgment,' was set
up, in order that scene after scene might be rolled before
the spectators at the street corners or the market place,
throughout the length of a midsummer day. Artists with
an antiquarian turn have endeavoured to picture for us
these curious stages. In Sharp's ' Dissertation on the
Coventry Mysteries' there is a frontispiece giving an
imaginary view of a performance ; and only a few years
ago an article was published in an American magazine,
with really delightful illustrations, depicting the working
of the elaborate stage machinery behind the scenes, as
well as the effects with which the spectators were regaled.
But of contemporary illustrations the lack remains grievous
and irreparable. In England we have nothing at all for
the Miracle Plays, while for the moralities by which they
were superseded, the only manuscript illustration is a



FLORENTINE RAPPRESENTAZIONI 13

picture of the castle in the ' Castle of Perseverance,' in
which, with the aid of his good angels, its occupant, Man,
was set to resist the attacks of the deadly sins and all the
hosts of hell ! The later moralities, printed by Wynkyn
de Worde and his contemporaries early in the sixteenth
century, have in one or two instances a few figures on the
face or back of the title-page, to which labels bearing the
names of the characters are attached. But these were
venerable cuts, which had done duty on previous occa-
sions for other subjects ; and so far from being specially
designed to represent the players on an English stage,
were really French in their origin, and only copied from
old woodcuts of Antoine Verard's 'Terence.'

In France we have much the same tale. It is true that
so many of the old French Mysteries still remain in manu-
script, unexplored, that there is a possibility of some
pleasant surprise in store for us. But the printed plays
were either not illustrated at all, or sent forth with only a
handful of conventional cuts. One little ray of light,
however, we have in the pictures, especially of the
Annunciation to the Shepherds and their Adoration, in
many of the numerous editions of the ' Hours of the
Blessed Virgin ' (the lay-folk's prayer-books, as they have
been called, of those days), which, from about 1490
onwards, attained the same popularity in print which they
had previously enjoyed in manuscript. In these illustra-
tions we see the shepherds, with their women-folk about
them, as they watched their flocks till startled by the
angel's greeting, and again crowding round the manger at
Bethlehem. In one edition, from which a reproduction is
given in a later essay in this volume, they even bear on
labels the names Gobin le gai, le beau Roger, Mahault,
Aloris, etc., by which they were known in the plays.



14 OLD PICTURE BOOKS

But however ready we may be to trace the influence of
the miracle plays in these pictures, as illustrations of the
plays themselves they are very inadequate ; and the fact
remains that in only one country, and practically only in
one city in that country (for the Siena editions are merely
reprints) did the religious plays, which in one form or
another were then being acted all over Europe, receive
any contemporary illustration. This one city was
Florence ; and alike for the special form in which the
religious drama was there developed, for the causes which
contributed to its popularity at the turn of the fifteenth
and sixteenth centuries, and for its close connection with
the popular art of the day, the subject is one of consider-
able interest. On its literary and religious side, the late
John Addington Symonds discussed it in ' Studies of the
Italian Renaissance ' with his usual ability, and many of
the plays have been reprinted by Signor Ancona. Of late
years the little pictures by which they are illustrated have
also received attention, a fact amply attested by the extra-
ordinary rise in their market value. But it is worth while
to bring together, even if only in outline, the pictures and
the plays to which they belong, more closely than has
hitherto been attempted, and this is my object in the
present paper.

Book-illustration in Italy began very early with the
publication in 1467, by Ulric Hahn, at Rome, of an
edition of the ' Meditations ' of Cardinal Torquemada on
the Life and Passion of Christ. For the next twenty
years its progress was only sporadic, and though we find
illustrations of greater or less artistic value in books
printed at Naples, Rome, Ferrara, Verona, and Venice,
we can only group them together in twos and threes ;
there is absolutely no trace of any school of illustrators.



FLORENTINE RAPPRESENTAZIONI 15

From this sporadic growth Florence was not entirely
excluded, for besides a treatise on geography we find in
the 1477 edition of Bettini's ' Monte Santo di Dio,' and
the famous 148 1 ' Dante,' pictures of very considerable
interest. Thev differ, however, from those of the illustrated
books of other Italian towns, in being not woodcuts but
engravings on copper, and it is a remarkable fact that until
the year 1490 no Florentine book is known which contains
a cut. The signs of wear in a woodcut of the dead Christ
which appears early in that year, has given rise to a belief
that there mav have been some previous illustrated
edition, now lost ; but it is more probable that the picture
had onlv been printed separately for pasting into books of
devotion. In any case, it stands apart, with but one
other cut, slightly later in date, from all other Florentine
work, and must be looked on only as an example of the
sporadic illustrations of which we have spoken as appear-
ing in other districts. But from the 28th of September,
1490, onwards for twenty years, we have a succession of
woodcuts which, amid all the differences which give them
individuality, are yet closely linked together in style, and
form, on the whole, by far the finest series of book-
illustrations of early date. The popularity which these
woodcuts attained is attested by the repeated editions of
the w^orks in which they appear ; while the suddenness
with which they sprang up, the general similarity of
style, and the nature of the books they illustrate, all
suggest that we have here to deal with a conscious and
carefully directed movement as opposed to the haphazard
use of illustrations in other cities during the previous
twenty years. The book in which the first characteristic
Florentine woodcut appears is an edition of the ' Laude,'
of Jacopone da Todi, printed by Francesco Buonaccorsi ;



rMMMaMAMMMhaaaaaaBaaHMMM*




FROM JACOl'ONE DA TODl'S ' LAUDE,' 1490



FLOREXTIXE RAPPRESEXTAZIOXI 17

and both the choice of the book and the name of the
printer offer a tempting basis for theory-making. Print-
ing, we must remember, though it had been in use for
more than a third of a century, was even then a new craft,
and was still taken up sometimes as a side-employment
by many persons who had been bred to other trades or
professions. Our own Caxton, as we all know, was a
mercer ; the first printer at St. Albans, a schoolmaster ;
Francesco Tuppo, of Naples, a jurist ; Joannes Philippus
de Lignamine, of Rome, a physician ; and so on. In
natural continuation, however, of the work of the Scrip-
torium in many monasteries, we find that a large number
of the early printers were members of monasteries or
priests, and it was to this latter order that the Buonaccorsi
who printed the ' Laude ' belonged. Now, the name
Buonaccorsi is the name of the family of Savonarola's
mother. A few months before the appearance of the
' Laude ' the great Dominican has been recalled to
Florence by Lorenzo de' Medici, and his first public
sermon there — a sermon which had stirred the whole city
to its depths — had been preached on the previous ist of
August. In the next year w^e find Buonaccorsi printing
the first edition of the ' Libro della vita viduale,' the
earliest dated Savonarola tract of ^\ hich I know ; and
I have not been able to resist hazarding the conjecture
that between the preacher-monk and the priest-printer
there may have been some tie of blood, and that it was to
Savonarola that the splendid series of Florentine illus-
trated books owed their origin.

That this should be the case would not be surprising.
Savonarola was no Puritan, or rather he was like the
Puritans of the better sort, and loved art so long as it was
subservient to the main object of man's being. The

B



i8 OLD PICTURE BOOKS

pamphlets with which he flooded Florence during the
next few years are, for the most part, decorated with a cut
on their first page or title ; and if the subject were ever
worked out, it would probably be found that this was
uniformly the case with the original editions, and those
issued with the author's supervision, while the unillus-


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