Novum Testamentum illustratum

Antwerp, Ioannes Batman, 1545


Small 8vo. 2 parts in 1, ff. 166; (ii) 117 (viii). Roman letter. T-ps within architectural woodcut border, 96 small woodcut scriptural scenes, decorated initials and ornaments. First t-p a little dusty at margins, traces of former repair, B1 repaired in gutter, slight age yellowing, outer margin of first gathering a bit soiled, light water stain to lower outer corners of gatherings A, N and T, intermittent to second part. A good copy in c1700 Bohemian deerskin over bevelled boards, blind ruled to a panel design, raised bands, spine gilt, morocco label (with small loss), all edges gilt and gauffered, ‘HIS’ on fore-edge, a bit rubbed. Illegible early ms. to ffep, C19 ‘Fr. Honold. Pf[a]rr[er]. Donndorf 1, Schwarzw.’ stamp to fly, C16 ms. ‘Sum Cornelij Junii’, C18 ms. ‘Ex Libris Leandri Abbatiae S. Procopium ad Sazavam’ and ‘Franciscus ab Imstenraud [Imstenrade] 1660’ to t-p.

A good ‘monastic’ Bohemian binding c1700. Attractive copy of this scarce illustrated pocket New Testament. Divided in two parts, with the Epistles presented separately, it reproduces the Latin Vulgate. It reprises the changes from c.1525 in the genre of Latin Bibles in the Low Countries, when printers began to focus on the New Testament in portable format, with the addition of copious illustrations to explain and assist private devotion. It is charmingly illustrated with 96 expressive woodcuts, each a bit less than ½ page, of unknown authorship. Cut in a simple style reminiscent of broadsides, they also reproduce the handsome, very influential woodcuts of the Book of Revelation made by Lucas Cranach for Luther’s Bible, inspired in turn by Dürer. A few others illustrate miracles in the Acts, of great interest to readers. The woodcuts were produced especially for this edition, an uncommon feat at a time in which illustrated pocket bibles often comprised woodcuts reused for many years. A lovely edition.

The earliest owners of this copy were Netherlandish, the second from the province of Limburg. In the C18, the book was in the library of the Benedictine Leander Kramarz (1714-1801) of St Prokop at Sazava, in Bohemia, where it had been rebound. Kramarz acquired the copy between 1763 and 1785, his years of service as the last abbot of St Prokop, abolished by the Emperor in 1785 (Krázl, 302).

Belgica typographica 1541-1600, 508; Netherlandish Books 4600. Not in Graesse. F. Krázl, Sv. Prokop (Prague, 1895); A. den Hollander, ‘Illustrations in Early Printed Latin Bibles in the Low Countries’, in The Handpress World, ed. B. Gordon et al. (2012), 41-61.
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