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YOLANDE BONHOMME

Book of Hours, for Use of Rome.
Paris: Widow of Thielmann Kerver [Yolande Bonhomme], 1523.

Yolande Bonhomme (ca. 1490–1557) was the daughter of Pasquier Bonhomme, a printer and one of four appointed booksellers of the University of Paris. In her father’s shop she probably undertook various responsibilities associated with printing. She married Thielmann Kerver, a highly successful printer, and when he died in 1522 she assumed control of his printing shop at the “sign of the unicorn” on the Rue St. Jacques in Paris. Following her husband, Yolande specialized in illustrated Books of Hours (private prayer books for lay worshippers), and in 1526 she became the first woman to print an edition of the Bible.

This 1523 Book of Hours, printed on vellum, was one of Yolande Bonhomme’s earliest independent productions. In the colophon at the end she signed the work as the widow of Thielmann Kerver. The exhibited opening shows the last page of the calendar and the first page of the Gospel Lessons, illustrated with a metalcut of St. John the Evangelist writing the Book of Revelation. The elaborate metalcut border in the left margin of the calendar page includes a shield with the initials of the printer’s late husband, “T.K.”