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Ars Memorandi. BLOCKBOOK. Single leaf, fo. 30, representing The Gospel of St. Luke, chapters 19-24. Schreiber xyl. edition III. [Germany (?Nuremberg): c.1475-80?].
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Ars Memorandi. BLOCKBOOK. Single leaf, fo. 30, representing The Gospel of St. Luke, chapters 19-24. Schreiber xyl. edition III. [Germany (?Nuremberg): c.1475-80?].

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Ars Memorandi. BLOCKBOOK. Single leaf, fo. 30, representing The Gospel of St. Luke, chapters 19-24. Schreiber xyl. edition III. [Germany (?Nuremberg): c.1475-80?].

(273 x 195mm, image area c.233 x 168mm). Xylograph, printed on one side only in grey water-based ink, coloured by a contemporary hand in blue, green, yellow and orange. No watermark in this half of the sheet, chainlines 36mm apart. (Left edge slightly shaved, nicked and reinforced, one small tear into image, a few minor repaired tears.) Preserved between glass.

The Ars memorandi is a medieval aid to remembering the order and principal subjects of the Gospels. As an aid for speakers, not readers or neophytes, such memory aids were intended for theologians who had to be able to recall instantly chapters of the Bible. They were particularly popular among Dominican friars, whose lives were spent preaching from memory. The effectiveness of the Ars memorandi as a memory system is witnessed in the subsequent typographical editions which retained the same symbolism and arrangement on the physical page.

Each sheet of the Ars memorandi was printed on one side only with a page of text on the left side and a corresponding image on the right. The sheet was then folded in half with the two sides facing each other. The present leaf is the final leaf of the book and represents the Gospel of St. Luke, chapters 19-24. A bull, the symbol of St. Luke, is shown at the centre of the page surrounded by allegorical mnemonics: the city of Jericho at his head stands for Christ entering that city, described in chapter 19; a bunch of grapes and coins on a platter on his chest represent the parable of the vineyard in chapter 20; a false prophet on his belly and the Son of God on a cloud represent the last days and redemption in chapter 21; the host and chalice between his feet represent the last supper and betrayal in chapter 22; the head of Pilate at his right hand represents the denunciation and crucifixion in chapter 23; and three cups and flag of victory in his left hand represent ointments carried to the tomb by Joanna and the two Marys and the resurrection in chapter 24.

Unlike the Biblia pauperum which was printed in numerous editions (Schreiber distinguished 14), the Ars memorandi was printed in only three editions, and Schreiber distinguished 3 issues of the first edition; nine copies of Schreiber edition III are recorded in institutional collections (Blockbücher des Mittelalters, p.399). Cf. Blockbücher des Mittelalters, exhibition catalogue, Mainz: Gutenberg Museum, 1991, no. 35 (Schreiber edition I) and passim. BMC I, 4 (IB.17: Schreiber II); BN AA-6; Oates 6; Schreiber, Manuel, vol. 4, pp. 134ff.
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