Item #09496 St. Crespin Et St. Crespinien. ST. CRISPIN, ST. CRISPINIAN. ?Third century.
“WE FEW, WE HAPPY FEW, WE BAND OF BROTHERS… THAT FOUGHT…UPON SAINT CRISPIN’S DAY” — SHAKESPEARE
ST. CRISPIN & ST. CRISPINIAN. ?Third century.

St. Crespin Et St. Crespinien.

Orléans, [P.-F.] Perdoux c. 1780.

LATE 18TH-CENTURY STENCIL-COLORED MONUMENTAL POPULAR PRINT made up four sheets (the whole 672 x 903 mm.; the image 631 x 842 mm.; watermark: crown, countermark: B & D).

 Beneath the title band lies the walled city of Soissons, fronted by a broad field. In the center left, shoemakers and cobblers serve customers and make and repair shoes in the shelter of a temporary stall. An elaborate outsized carriage dominates the scene. On the left, an angel leads the team of six white horses toward the town gate.
 In the carriage, a well dressed coachmen drives the beasts, which are caparisoned with the tools of the shoemaker’s and cobbler’s trades. With a Cross of the Holy Spirit pinned to each of their chests, Saints Crispin and Crispinian, richly garbed, sit behind, unruffled in their journey. The carriage door is emblazoned with shoemakers’ and cobblers’ tools.
  In the lower left of the scene more tools overflow a wooden box, and, just to the right, a pair of high boots and a half-dozen lasts lie scattered on the ground.

Famous throughout northern Europe in the Middle Ages, Crispin and Crispinian are known today from the king’s great speech before the Battle of Agincourt in Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth (act IV, scene 3).  Probably produced for their feast day — 25 October — to be hung in merchants’ stalls and shops and fixed to tavern walls, this wonderfully exuberant monumental print celebrates THE PATRON SAINTS OF SHOEMAKERS AND COBBLERS and of Soissons, where they made shoes at night, having preached all day. These sheets were sold to the tradesmen across France, who were protected by the saints, and broadly to the inhabitants of Soissons.  Orléans was the most important center for the production and distribution of popular imagery in 18th-century France, and Perdoux a dominant force not only in cheap prints but in decorated papers, many used for book wrappers. It is unlikely that another example of this four-sheet print survives and certainly not in such superb condition (four neat blank marginal repairs on the verso, one just into the image).

Item #09496

Price: $8,500.00