Book of Hours, use of Rome, in Latin and French, printed on vellum. Hore beate Marie virginis secundum usum Romanum totaliter ad longum sine require Cum multis suffragiis & orationib’ de nouo additis

Paris, Germain Hardouin, 1528.

£24,500

PRINTED ON VELLUM. 8°. A-M8. 96 leaves, 30 lines. Roman letter. Large Hardouin device on title, 16 large metalcuts (2 full-page, 14 half-page), anatomical skeleton, and 22 smaller cuts, all illuminated in gold and colours by a contemporary hand, gold painted borders, ruled in red, to each large cut, metal cut multiple-piece ornamental, grotesque or historiated borders to all other pages, (unpainted), entirely rubricated with liquid-gold initials and line-filler on alternate red and blue grounds. (A1r, title with Hardouin device, A1v 4 quatrains beginning ‘ung iuif mutilant iadis’, A2r anatomical skeleton and 4 small cuts, A2v almanac for 1528-1545, A3r-B1r calendar, B1v-3v Gospel sequence (one large, 3 small cuts), B4r-C2r Passion according to St. John (large Crucifixion), C2v-F7r Hours of the Virgin (large cuts of Annunciation (x 2), Visitation, Nativity, Annunciation to the Shepherds, Adoration of the Magi, Presentation in the Temple, Flight into Egypt, Coronation of the Virgin), F7v-G2r Hours of the Cross and of the Holy Ghost (Crucifixion, Pentecost), G2v-5v Office of the Immaculate Conception (Virgin and Child in mandorla), G6r-H5v Seven Penitential Psalms (Bathsheba), H6r-K4r Office of the Dead (Job on his dungheap), K4v-L5v Suffrages, (Trinity and 12 small cuts), L5v-M1r seven prayers of St Gregory, prayers to the Virgin for Saturday, prayer to St. Roch (one small cut), M1r-4v prayers attributed to St. Augustine, prayers devoted to the Virgin, M4v-5v Hours of St. Barbara (one small cut), M5v-7r Salutatio beate Marie virginis, M7r-v table of contents, M8v colophon). Outer blank margin of title page trimmed, well away from text, the odd marginal thumb mark spot or stain, vellum slightly yellowed in places. A very good copy with crisp dark impressions of the cuts, the painting and gold fresh and clean, in contemporary Parisian calf over thin wooden boards, covers blind ruled to a dense panel design, outer two panels filled with blind scrolls, central ‘Gril de St Laurent’ design of vertical strips of repeated motifs in blind, spine covered at a later date with black painted vellum, binding rubbed corners worn, all edges gilt.

Extremely rare, finely printed and beautifully illuminated book of hours, on good quality vellum with the cuts finely illuminated in gold and colour to a rectangular format, although the metalcuts beneath are within ovals. This means the illuminator has not simply coloured the cuts beneath but has freely painted over them or extended the painting of the figures beyond the original borders.This copy seems to be very close to one sold in the Foyle library (lot 202) in 2000, although this copy remains in its contemporary binding. Books of hours were used by individuals at home rather than in church. A calendar was attached to the front so that memorial days of the saints could be identified. “And there is no doubt that the famous illustrations of the Missal, or ‘Book of Hours,’ issued in Paris between 1490 and 1520, were engraved on metal of some kind, perhaps on copper or some amalgam of tin and copper. (…) It will be noticed that the groundwork of many borders in the French books is filled with little white dots, criblé it was called; these dots are, in the first place, to imitate similar work in the gold grounds of the borders of illustrated missals, and, in the second place, to save the labour of cutting away so much of the metal as would be required for a white ground. (…) An important point to notice in connection with the illustrations of French ‘Books of Hours’ at this time is that they are nearly all inspired by German artists and nearly all copied from illuminated MSS.” Joseph Cundall. ‘A Brief History of Wood engraving.’

The Hardouin’s workshop dominated the market of printed books of hours, in Paris between 1510 and 1550. Gillet Hardouin worked primarily as a printer, between 1500 and 1542, and German Hardouin was registered in the Guild of Illuminators. They were the only editors capable of both printing and illumination without commissioning other professionals. The metal cut borders do not follow the text of the work and combine scenes from the life of Christ, the Saints and the Old Testament with alternating with allegorical decorations of many various kinds. The quality of their work is remarkable. It seems that they produced books of hours in various formats, from ordinary copies printed on paper to those printed on vellum with woodcuts and the most luxurious where the entire book was illuminated over the original woodcuts as here.

A very rare and beautiful work.

See Fairfax Murray 274 for a similar work. Not in Brunet, van Praet or Lacombe.

L1985

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