MARBL has just acquired a personalized Jesuit prayer book in manuscript incorporating devotional prints: [JESUIT MANUSCRIPT PRAYER BOOK]. Libellus Piarum Precum… [Trier?], colophon: 1575.
“What’s interesting about this ‘Trier’ manuscript”, comments Professor Walter Melion, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Art History, “is that the illustrations–woodblocks and engravings–are printed on the same paper as the manuscript, which indicates that they were produced for insertion into this codex.
The prayer book includes 5 full-page hand-colored woodcuts, 11 engravings with touches of hand-color, and numerous hand-drawn colored Jesuit monograms.
Melion continues, “It’s very unusual to have prints designed for a manuscript text. Whoever assembled this prayer book was imitating and personalizing the practice of publishers such as Plantin, who commissioned woodcuts and engravings as illustrations for printed books. … Indeed, the scribe was skilled and used rubrics and lettering in several colors, but it is the image and text apparatus as a whole that merits closer study.” Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) already owns an important collection of illustrated Jesuit books -meditative, historical, and theological treatises, as well as emblem books. This prayer book offers an invaluable comparandum: a sixteenth-century manuscript that complements the various Jesuit publications already in MARBL.