Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Meditationes passionis Christi; Devote meditatione sopra la passione del nostro Signore (Devout Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord): The Raising of Lazarus, opening page (folios 1v and 2r)
    Author: Pseudo–Bonaventura
    Venice: Hieronymus de Sanctis & Cornelio, 1487
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations; 8 11/16 x 6 5/16 x 1/2 in. (22 x 16 x 1.3 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1933 (33.17)

    The anonymous author of this Franciscan devotional tract, once attributed to Saint Bonaventura, humanized the story of Christ's suffering, providing detailed narrative accounts of each critical event, and thus contributed significantly to a new mode of devotion and a new type of Christian iconography. Probably originating around 1300, with the advent of the press the text became one of the most frequently printed works of the late fifteenth century.

    This first illustrated edition is particularly important for preserving the images from the only known Italian blockbook of the fifteenth century. Only one, incomplete, copy of the blockbook in its original state—before the blocks were cut down—survives, in the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett. Only eleven cuts from the original—which probably consisted of at least thirty-one—have been reused here, but these include the Raising of Lazarus, which is lacking from the copy in Berlin.

    The Raising of Lazarus, the first illustration in this book, was a particularly significant miracle, for it anticipated the Resurrection and gave proof of Christ's ability to vanquish death. Lazarus had then been dead for four days, a fact emphasized in the biblical text and in this illustration, where three of the figures conspicuously cover their noses, indicating that the body has already begun to stink. The sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, do not shield themselves from the stench but kneel before Christ in prayerful attitudes, giving proof of their faith in his ability to do the impossible. Lazarus, wrapped in his shroud, is seen sitting up in his tomb in response to Christ's command.

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  • Meditationes passionis Christi; Devote meditatione sopra la passione del nostro Signore (Devout Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord): The Raising of Lazarus, opening page (folios 1v and 2r)
    Author: Pseudo-Bonaventura
    Venice: Hieronymus de Sanctis & Cornelio, 1487
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations; 8 11/16 x 6 5/16 x 1/2 in. (22 x 16 x 1.3 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1933 (33.17)

    Meditationes passionis Christi; Devote meditatione sopra la passione del nostro Signore (Devout Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord): The Flagellation (folios 21v and 22r)
    Author: Pseudo-Bonaventura
    Venice: Hieronymus de Sanctis & Cornelio, 1487
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations

    8 11/16 x 6 5/16 x 1/2 in. (22 x 16 x 1.3 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1933 (33.17)

    Images of Christ's suffering were particularly appropriate vehicles for meditation. The viewer could witness, lament, and identify with the trials of Christ, endured on behalf of sinful humankind.

    The eleven woodcuts used in this book are in a Late Gothic style and have been dated from 1426 to 1446, on the basis of the paper used in the original blockbook. Comparisons have been drawn between the broad and well characterized faces, round heads, decisive gestures, and fantastic architecture and the work of such Late Gothic Venetian painters as Jacobello del Fiore (a

    Meditationes passionis Christi; Devote meditatione sopra la passione del nostro Signore (Devout Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord): The Crucifixion (folios 29v and 30r)
    Author: Pseudo-Bonaventura
    Venice: Hieronymus de Sanctis & Cornelio, 1487
    Printed book with woodcut illustrations

    8 11/16 x 6 5/16 x 1/2 in. (22 x 16 x 1.3 cm)
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1933 (33.17)

    In adapting a blockbook of biblical images to the illustration of a printed book of meditations, the publisher has trimmed away the banderoles that formerly carried the text. The heads of the angels that supported the banderoles remain, however, and respond to each scene, here expressing their agitation as they witness the Crucifixion.


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