A VERY EARLY WOMAN PRINTER

Ces presentes heures a lusaige de paris tout au long sans rien req̄rir |avec plusieurs belles histoires : nouvellemēt īprimees.

Paris, par la veusve de feu Thielman Kerver [i.e. Yolande Bonhomme] 1522. [1523]

£17,500

4to. ff. 132. A-P8, Q4, aa8. Gothic letter in red and black. Title page within architectural woodcut border with Kerver’s beautiful white on black criblé device of two unicorns, woodcut anatomical man, 12 oval woodcuts of the twelve cycles of life in the calendar, 46 further large cuts including the 3 living and the 3 dead men, all within fine architectural woodcut borders, armorial of the instruments of the Passion on verso of first colophon, 30 smaller cuts of saints on criblé grounds as verse headings. At the end are 8 additional leaves of Commendations of the dead with further colophon. The calendar runs from 1523-1536. Light age yellowing, occasional marginal spot, thumb mark and very minor soiling, light stain to woodcut nativity. A very good copy, crisp and clean, on thick paper with dark impressions of the woodcuts in contemporary dark French calf, covers triple blind ruled to a panel design, gilt fleurons to outer corners, large scrolled arabesque gilt at centres, spine  with raised bands, re-backed and remounted, all edges gilt and gauffered.

A stunningly illustrated book of hours very finely printed by Yolande Bonhomme the widow of Thielman Kerver, with three remarkable suites of woodcuts. This edition contains exactly the same woodcuts as the Roman Hours printed by Kerver, Sept. 10, 1522, probably his last work. Of that edition Brunet writes: “C’est une livre fort remarquable par les grandes planches et les beaux encadrements qui le décorent. Ces planches sont d’abord 12 figures ovales, au calendrier offrant des sujets analogues aux occupations de chaque mois de l’année. La 12, pour Décembre représente un homme agé de soixante-douze ans à son lit de mort. Un explication en vers français et au-dessous de chaque tableau. Il en est de meme pour les 45 grandes planches placées dans les Heures.” The twelve, most charming and lively, calendar woodcuts are in fact a cycle of the twelve ages of man (the woodcuts also include the zodiac for each month), each divided into six years with an explanation, in French verse, for each age. Thus the first woodcut (the first six years of life) is of young children playing at various games, including a game of what looks like hockey, and the second (the ages of six to twelve) is of children in a school room, one reading a book with a pointing stick and the other being soundly beaten. This is one of the earliest images of punishment being meted out at school. The suite finishes with a seventy two year old man on his deathbed. The woodcuts are of the highest quality.

“Yolande Bonhomme (ca. 1490–1557) was the daughter of Pasquier Bonhomme, a printer and one of four appointed booksellers of the University of Paris. In her father’s shop she probably undertook various responsibilities associated with printing. She married Thielmann Kerver, a highly successful printer, and when he died in 1522 she assumed control of his printing shop at the “sign of the unicorn” on the Rue St. Jacques in Paris. Following her husband, Yolande specialized in illustrated Books of Hours (private prayer books for lay worshippers), and in 1526 she became the first woman to print an edition of the Bible. This 1523 Book of Hours, .. was one of Yolande Bonhomme’s earliest independent productions. In the colophon at the end she signed the work as the widow of Thielmann Kerver.. …With three decades of printing experience behind her, Bonhomme still utilized her husband’s “unicorn” trademark on the title page to signal the continuity of his press. At the time of her death in 1557, the press was one of the most successful and respected in Paris, having produced more than 200 editions, including the first Bible published by a woman.” Bridwell Library, ‘FiftyWomen’.

A very finely and profusely illustrated book of hours, beautifully printed by one of the most important early female printers.

Lacombe 324. Brunet V, ‘Heures’ no. 197. Bohatta 314. Not in Fairfax Murray.

L2408

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