GUILLAUME ALEXIS

Le Passe-temps de tout homme et de toute femme; L’ABC des doubles
In French, illustrated manuscript on paper
France, Normandy, Rouen?, c. 1525-1530
20 pen drawings (first hand-colored in wash) by an unidentified artist based on the woodcuts published in Paris, Antoine Vérard, c. 1505

This is a sort of hybrid work, an intriguing manuscript transcribed and illustrated entirely by hand of a book printed in 1505 by the celebrated Parisian printer-publisher Antoine Vérard. The text presents a roughly contemporary and lively verse translation by Guillaume Alexis of an immensely popular twelfth-century Latin work attributed to Pope Innocent “On the Misery of the Human Condition” also reputedly translated by Chaucer into English. The drawings are, in fact, modeled on Vérard’s woodcuts, but their alluringly spontaneous character and the fluent style of the calligraphy impart a personal charm to the work lacking in the printed editions..

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