¶ Sánchez de Arévalo — Speculum vitae humanae (1471)

April 8, 2014

1471, 15th cent.

Sánchez de Arévalo, Rodrigo [Rodericus Zamorensis]. Speculum vitae humanae. Augsburg: Günther Zainer, 11 January 1471.

For Morris’s other copy of this book, see Sánchez de Arévalo, Speculum vitae humanae (1471).

In the British Library is a proof—reproduced in Peterson, The Kelmscott Press (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), p. 172—of one page of a projected catalogue of Morris’s library, never published. It includes a bibliographical description (by Cockerell) of the Speculum, followed by this note by Morris: “This is, if not the first, yet one of the first of Gunther Zainer’s woodcuts, & consequently one of the earliest of the Augsburg woodcut books; it is an early example of Zainer’s second Gothic type. The woodcuts, designed clearly by an earlier designer of his, and not by the artist of his Golden Legend, are rude, but have much character, though they are not so decorative as some others of the Augsburg and Ulm books. The colouring of them in this copy is clearly original, and is systematic and good, the brownish lake, especially, is very good colour, and contrasts well with the transparent yellow. The book lacks the added beauty of Zainer’s large woodcut letters, which were probably not then done. The big initial I, very skilfully composed of simple strapwork, is one of a few letters which (I believe) occur only in Gunther Zainer’s books.” (This proof also bears some corrections and revisions in Morris’s hand that are no longer fully legible.)

Provenance: Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 1129 (sold to Quaritch for £100). — Charles Fairfax Murray. — Fairfax Murray sale, Christie, 10 December 1917, lot 414. — Unlocated.

Reference: ISTC (ir00215000).

Digital version: BSB.

Sotheby 1898:



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  1. ¶ Sánchez de Arévalo — Speculum vitae humanae (1471) | The Library of William Morris - May 1, 2015

    […] For Morris’s other copy of this book, see Sánchez de Arévalo, Speculum vitae humanae (1471). […]