image preview


Illuminated metalcut.

This Book of Hours is illustrated with 14 full-page metalcuts illuminated in colors and gold. In the sixteenth century Paris was at the center of the European luxury book market. By that time artisans other than monks and monasteries were producing Books of Hours for export. This was printed in Paris by Gillet Hardouyn. The series of hand-painted metalcuts in this book have been attributed to an artist in the workshop of Jean Pichore; the original metalcuts by Pichore may have been produced sometime between 1505 and 1510.

View the full text.


According to Frederic Farrar, author of the 1895 work, The Life of Christ as Represented in Art, “The love of horror led the Renaissance painters to aggravate and exaggerate every incident which they did not invent. Thus we get the seven scenes—afterwards multiplied into fourteen—which are known as ‘The Stations of the Cross.’” At the center of this sixteenth century illustration is the image of a living, suffering Christ. His hands and feet are nailed to the Cross, on his head is the Crown of Thorns, and above his head is a halo. His wounds cascade with blood. Beside him are the two robbers who were crucified with him. The robber to the right has a halo and the other does not. At the foot of the Cross are four figures. John 20:25-27 reads: "But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Mag'dalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!" The woman is the blue garment with the halo is meant to be Mary, and it is likely that the figure behind her in the red garment is the "Beloved disciple;" the figure shown clutching the Cross might be Mary Magdalene.

An interesting element of this illustration is the inclusion of the soldier piercing Jesus' side. According to John 20:31-37, this act takes place after the death of Christ, not as an act of torture as this illustration would suggest. It would seem that the artist, as Farrar suggests, has included this detail for a more dramatic depiction of Christ's suffering.


Artwork in the Public Domain