LUDOLPHUS DE SAXONIA (c.1300-1377/8). Vita Christi, in French: Le Grant Vita Christi. Translated from Latin into French by Guillaume Lemenand. Paris: Antoine Vérard, [between October 1499 and July 1503].
4 parts in 2 volumes, median 2° (334 x 226mm). Collation: I: a-p8 q6 aa-pp8 qq10; II: A-L8 M-N6 AA-TT8 (a1r xylographic title, a1v full-page woodcut of the Crucifixion, a2r presentation woodcut, prologue, a8r chapter one, q5r tabula for part I, q6v blank; aa1r chapter 42, qq8v tabula for part II, qq9v woodcut Verard device, qq10r quire register for parts I-II, qq10v blank; II: A1r xylographic title, A1v full-page Crucifixion woodcut, A2r part III, chapter 1, N5v tabula; AA1r chapter 51, TT6v colophon, TT7r tabula, TT7v woodcut Vérard device, TT8r quire register for parts III-IV, TT8v blank). 505 leaves (of 508, a1,2, e4 and lower third of TT8 in facsimile). 53 lines and headline, double column. Each volume opening with xylographic title with grotesque initial L [Macfarlane 9], full-page Crucifixion woodcut on title verso (repeated in vol. II), two half-page woodcuts and 116 smaller woodcuts, woodcut device [Macfarlane illus. LXXVII] repeated in both volumes, woodcut grotesque and decorated initials. Type: 11:99 batarde. (Small wormhole at end of first volume, occasional light staining, browning or repaired marginal tear.) Early 19th-century calf over wooden boards preserving much of contemporary French panelled calf sides tooled with knot-work and floral rolls, early backstrip and pastedowns largely preserved, front endpapers c. 1806, two later fore-edge clasps; modern brown leather folding box (box bumped and joints splitting). Provenance: [?]anibaud (early inscription at end of vol. II) -- 18th-century French ?shelf-marks and volume numbers.
Third French edition, the first printed by Vérard, of one of the most popular and influential devotional works of the later middle ages. It offers a distillation of patristic, ascetical, and mystical works on the life of Christ, ending each section with a prayer for contemplation. It was a work embraced across many segments of society and religious orders, and printed in French, German, Catalan, Dutch and Portuguese translations, as well as the Latin original, by the end of the 15th century.
RARE; ISTC records seven copies, all but one imperfect, and only two of which are outside France (NYPL, and imperfect copy of vol. I only at Aberystwyth). Among the illustrations are a half-page woodcut of Christ appearing to a Carthusian monk ("remarkable" - Fairfax Murray), eight Horae cuts used by Vérard in 1498 and Poitevin c.1503, and a set of 63 woodcuts (including repeats) which appears to have been used here for the first time. HC 10298; CIBN L-276; Hillard 1251; Macfarlane, Vérard, 138; Davies, Murray French, 343; Goff L-359. (2)