The Groenendaal Passion, late 15th century
Twelve engravings by Israhel van Meckenem (German, ca. 1440/45–1503), two touched with gold; one hand–colored woodcut, Netherlandish School, 15th century; one hand–colored metalcut, Cologne School, 15th century; and 32 leaves of manuscript text in Dutch and Latin in brown ink with initials in red, bound in Netherlandish blind–stamped leather; engraving 8 1/2 x 6 in. (21.5 x 15.3 cm), book 10 1/4 x 8 1/16 in. (26 x 20.4 cm)
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest and 2002 Benefit Fund, 2003 (2003.476)
In the fifteenth century, prints frequently were integrated into devotional manuscripts, pasted or bound into books and annotated with commentary. In this way, many engravings and woodcuts have survived, though most have since been separated from those volumes. This fascinating album thus provides vivid testimony to the way in which prints were used at the time. Twelve outstanding early impressions of Van Meckenem's lively engravings of the Passion are interleaved with manuscript text of the Hundred Meditations on the Passion of Christ. The album also includes two rare, hand-colored devotional prints—a woodcut of Christ as the Man of Sorrows and a metalcut of Saint Jerome in Penitence—as well as liturgical calendars and several devotional texts. The whole is bound into a now well-worn fifteenth-century Netherlandish leather flap binding, decorated with geometric patterns and a stamp with animals and text. Various features of the Dutch and Latin text and the binding indicate that the album was assembled in an Augustinian house of Canons Regular in the southern Netherlands. References in the calendars and the list of canons at the front of the book suggest that it may have been compiled more specifically at the monastery of Groenendaal, near Brussels.