London, South Kensington
30 November 2001
DEVOTIONAL WOODCUT, depicting the Christ Child within the sacred heart amidst pansies above a flock of sheep, 4 lines of text in Dutch above, beginning 'Compt myn schaeph ens alle geliyche...'. [The Netherlands: 16th-century].
(80 x 65mm), woodcut printed in black ink, coloured by a contemporary hand in red, yellow, green and blue, orange border, yellow capital strokes (border just shaved, short tears, two repaired, tiny loss at one corner, remainder of old backing on verso).
A rare survival of a piece of popular printing intended for devotion. In style, the print belongs to the 16th century, when it would be an early example of the Christ Child as the Good Shepherd, a devotion popularised in the 17th century. By that time, the form and lettering of the present image would have seemed old fashioned. Although popular devotional woodcuts could be conservative, very few such prints survive to document their range of subject matter or the dates at which new themes appeared. The pansies on either side of the Christ Child denote thought, reinforcing visually the devotional purpose of the image.
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