BY CLOVIS EVE
BREVIARIUM ROMANUM, ex decreto sacrosancti concilij Tridentini restitutum. Pii 5. Pont. Max. iussu editum. Cum insuper accessit kalendarium gregorianum perpetuumParis, apud Iacobum Keruer, 1583
Folio. 2 vols in one. pp. (lxxvi), 1046, (ii) ; 155, (i). ã , e , , õ , , A-Zz , AA-SS TT-VV (VV6 blank); a-i k . Roman letter, in red and black, text within box rule, in double column, Kerver’s large woodcut unicorn device on verso of last, woodcut figues of St Peter and St Paul on title, historiated woodcut initials, seven full page woodcuts, bookplate of Maurice Burrus on pastedown. Light age yellowing, some quires lightly browned, general light spotting a bit heavier in places. A very good copy in a magnificent contemporary French olive morocco gilt fanfare binding, covers bordered with a triple gilt rule, the fanfare design is entirely gilt worked around a central oval (overlaid with tan morocco at a later date) with a multitude of compartments and half compartments connected by volutes and torsades, with leafy spays and floral spirals all filled with a small tools gilt, including small and large roses, hearts (the coeur empanaché), leaves, with a semé of small tools and pontillé tools, the spine is worked in an identical fashion, again around a central oval filled with fan and heart tools gilt, edges with double gilt rules with hatched compartments, all edges gilt, upper joint expertly restored.
An extraordinary and truly monumental fanfare binding of the highest quality, a masterpiece of the genre, with tools traditionally attributed to the Royal workshop of Clovis Eve. Its abundant and exceptionally finely worked decoration represents the culmination of the development in the design of fanfare bindings. The style had its beginnings around 1565, gradually becoming more complex and intricate, covering the entire binding with small compartments with torsades, spirals of leafy stems, and branches, the whole worked with a multitude of small tools. It reached its peak around 1585 with bindings like this. Needham points out the extraordinary work involved in making such a binding, describing a very similar, though slightly smaller fanfare binding; “No area of the covers and back is left ungilded. The compartments are made up of individual small gauges (arced lines) and pallets (straight lines). An extrapolation from one sector of the cover suggests that a total of about 3000 separate tool impressions were required to finish this binding – exclusive of the hundreds of gold dots scattered ad libitum over the covers. This is an average of almost 40 impressions per square inch.” There are two comparable copies of large format fanfare bindings, one which is on the same edition of Breviarium Romanum, from the collection of Micheal Wittock, the second on volumes of St. Augustine’s Opera Omnia (see Hobson / Culot). These three bindings share the same small tools, among which is the celebrated and mysterious little tool known as the “coeur empanaché”, traditionally attributed to Clovis Eve. The fact that a similar very rich fanfare binding is found on the same work suggests that they were probably commissioned by the same person, or perhaps the binder for presentation. Such rich bindings were rare even at the period and as Needham points out “It was much more common for fanfare bindings to be found on special presentation copies and gifts” or as they were so time consuming and expensive to make “A finite library of good books could be bound luxuriously as a cabinet of treasures”.
A stunning copy of this beautifully printed breviary.USTC 172227. Hobson, Les reliures à la fanfare’. Nixon, PML 61. Needham, Twelve centuries 83.