BREVIARIUM ROMANUM Breviarium Romanum, ex sacra potissimum scriptura, et probatis sanctorum historiis nuper confectum

Lyon, Balthazar Arnoullet & héritiers Jean Barbou; Hugues de La Porte, 1544


Folio. ff. [18] 36; 255 [i]. [a4, b8, c6, d-g8, h4 A-Z8, aa-ii8.] Roman letter in red and black, entirely ruled in red. Woodcut printer’s device on title, floriated and historiated initials in various sizes, small woodcut of King David on d1, finely engraved C18th bookplate of the “Comte Castelbourg” . Light age yellowing, title and second leaf a little thumb-marked in lower outer corner, occasional marginal mark or spot. A fine copy, with good margins, in stunning contemporary French black morocco finely worked to an allover gilt strapwork design, covers bordered with a double gilt rule, outer section with a gilt geometric interlacing strapwork border, central oval, alternatively gilt and silver gilt lettered with the inscription “Bonum Faciendo ne defatigemur” with small gilt and silver gilt fleurons, surrounded with a gilt interlaced strapwork and scrolled border, large hatched tools gilt above and below, spine finely worked in three sections of interlaced gilt strapwork, divided by two scrolled sections with gilt hatched tools, raised head and tail bands ‘alla greca’, edges gilt ruled with gilt scrolls, turn ins with gilt rule, all edges richly gilt and gauffered to a ornate floral design. Small and very expert repair to head-band, upper joint restored.

Rare edition of this beautifully printed Roman Breviary, in a stunning contemporary French ‘alla greca’ binding of the finest quality, in a similar style to bindings made by Claude de Piques or Gommar Estienne, finely worked to an allover gilt strap-work design. The binding is particularly fine, beautifully worked with a very elegant and deceptively simple design. It is very similar in style to a binding in the British Library, attributed to Claude de Piques, BL Shelfmark c19b7. It seems incongruous to find such a non classical or Greek work bound in the ‘alla greca’ style, but it is by no means unique. The BL has two such examples from the same period; an edition of Alberti’s L’Architecture et art de bien bastir, (Davis 396) bound in a very ornate but similar strap-work design, either by Etienne Gommar or possibly Claude de Piques, and an edition of St. Augustines Confessions (Davis 425). Both these non-classical works were bound at the same period in the same ‘alla greca’ style. The motto on the covers, roughly translates as “let us not tire of doing good” is taken from Paul’s letters to the Galatians 6:9.

This beautifully printed breviary is an early edition of Cardinal Quignon’s short lived revised version. There had been, in the earlier part of the sixteenth century, attempts to reform the services of the Church. These reforms had the sanction of the Papacy, and Clement VII entrusted the task to the celebrated Cardinal Quignon. His first revision of the Breviary was issued between February, 1535, and July, 1536, and in these eighteen months went through some ten editions. A second recension was published in July, 1536, and became immensely popular. Its use was prohibited by Paul IV in 1558, afterwards permitted again by Pius IV. Pius V however renewed the prohibition, and the use of Quignon’s Breviary died out in the Roman Church.

A stunning copy of this rare breviary in a most beautiful binding.

USTC 199929. Gultlingen. IX p.105 13. Baudrier V:19. Adams L 875. Bohatta [Breviaries] 157.
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