Full image caption
Rectangular printing block for a devotional text. The printing block has two carved ovals. The ovals have the heads and torsos of two saints. Both have large halos and are wearing robes. The saint on the left is shown looking up at rays of light. Medieval pilgrims could buy woodcut pictures of the Life of Christ, the Virgin Mary and favourite saints when they visited a shrine or religious house. These prints served a similar purpose to the modern picture postcard, and were popular souvenirs and devotional aids. Pamphlet length 'block-books' combining woodcut text (usually just a few words) and images appeared for the first time on the Continent in the mid 1400s, but it was the advent of the moveable-type printing press which gave a real boost to the graphic art of woodblock cutters and their skills were much in demand for book illustrations. This woodblock with two saints was presumably used to illustrate a devotional work.
© Museum of London