La Dévotion à l’Image de la très Ste Vierge dite Notre Dame de la Delivrance. [And:] Notre Dame de Bonne Delivrance protectrice des Femmes Enceintes. BROADSIDES: Notre Dame de la Délivrance.
La Dévotion à l’Image de la très Ste Vierge dite Notre Dame de la Delivrance. [And:] Notre Dame de Bonne Delivrance protectrice des Femmes Enceintes.

La Dévotion à l’Image de la très Ste Vierge dite Notre Dame de la Delivrance. [And:] Notre Dame de Bonne Delivrance protectrice des Femmes Enceintes. [Both:] Paris: chez Jean, rue Jean de Beauvais no. 32 [but imprint cropped in first broadside], [ca. 1797-1800].

Two hand-colored engraved broadsheets: 1) Large broadside, trimmed to borders (482 x 389 mm.), and laid down on modern paper; showing large central figure of Our Lady of Deliverance holding in her left arm the crowned Christ Child, on an altar with maritime background, surrounded by ex-votos, flanked by eight smaller scenes, and with worshippers below, engraved text throughout, hand- or stencil-colored in red, blue, green, pink and pale yellow, rather carelessly applied. A few small tears at borders, two losses to upper border, supplied in ink and wash facsimile. 2) Smaller broadside, sheet size 409 x 257 mm., platemark 311 x 201 mm., contemporary hand-coloring in red, blue, yellow, green and blue, additional details supplied in white gouache or wash, the image showing Our Lady of Deliverance similarly disposed on an altar, with ex-votos and worshippers, flanked with four smaller scenes including engraved text, engraved title and prayer below the image. No visible platemark. Fine. ***

These two imposing and colorful prints for pilgrims and for private devotion show the history and miracles of Notre-Dame de la Deliverance, a “black madonna” located in Douvres in the French département of Calvados, and an object of veneration since the early Middle Ages. The earliest historically recorded pilgrimages to the shrine are associated with Regnobert, seventh-century Bishop of Bayeux; the site was celebrated in the Middle Ages and important enough to be visited twice by King Louis XI. The legend recorded in these prints is of a statue of the Madonna allegedly discovered in the sixteenth century and preserved in the Basilica Notre-Dame de la Délivrande, still the most important pilgrimage site in Normandy.

The larger broadside presents a rich and partly trompe l’oeil visual account of the shrine’s legend and history. At the same time it is evidently a realistic depiction of the shrine, complete with ex-votos. At center in a recessed niche stands the magnificently robed and crowned Virgin holding the infant Christ, also covered in a long robe, on an altar captioned Sancta Maria / Ora pro nobis. The Virgin and Child are flanked by a pair of columns from which hang ex-votos, including representations of body parts (arms and legs), heads, and a swaddled baby, and, on chains, two ex-voto paintings of miracles; at top are two cherubs holding aloft a large crown, and a maritime view with ships occupies the background. At the foot of the altar is an arresting cohort of eight penitents in eighteenth-century dress, most kneeling or prostrate, including a chained prisoner, a lame man, a woman and a child. Above the altar are two scenes showing the legendary discovery, in 1531, of the statue by sheep and a shepherd, and its ceremonial unearthing by Baudouin, Count of Douvres. Flanking the niche are eight rectangular scenes of miracles wrought by the statue (reproducing ex-votos?). The engraved text at the foot provides a history of the miraculous image, from its discovery to the present day, and captions within the small vignettes describe each miracle.

The smaller engraving, produced by the same imagier, shows a simplified version of the same theme; the Virgin and Child at center under a baldachin are surrounded by fewer ex-votos and are flanked by four oval medallion scenes of which the top two relate the legend of the statue’s discovery and unearhing by Baudouin, and the bottom two depict miracles; below the altar are four penitents, accompanied by a priest and at center the Holy Dove. At foot is the title and a prayer to the Virgin. Although here specifically named as patroness of pregnant women, Our Lady of Good Deliverance was worshipped broadly by the poor and infirm, and by victims of shipwrecks, as documented in the small scenes of miracles in these prints.

I have had another copy of the larger print; the imprint, engraved below the outer border, was cropped in this copy. “Jean” was the commonly used imprint of a family of Paris print- and map-publishers who may or may not have practiced engraving themselves. According to the BnF authority file (citing the Inventaire du fonds français / 18e siècle), the founder was one Jean-Baptiste Jean, who acquired ca. 1785 the stocks of several other papetiers, Mondhare, Bonnet, and Alibert. The Jeans worked out of several addresses, all in the rue Jean de Beauvais; the present address, no. 32, is recorded from 1797 to 1804.

The coloring of these prints, in the smaller broadside supplying extra details to the image (mainly feather or tear-like designs on the figures’ red cloaks), was probably carried out in their shop.

Other than the copy of the larger engraving which passed through my hands, I have not located other copies of these prints. A few later, more rudimentary woodcut images on the same model, all from Caen, are recorded in the catalogue of the Musée national des arts et traditions populaires, L'imagerie populaire française vol. I (1990), edited by Nicole Garnier. Item #2805

Price: $2,800.00