PEPIN, Guillaume.


PEPIN, Guillaume. Rosarium aureum mysticum.

Paris, Jehan Petit, [1521]


8vo. [268] unnumbered ff. Gothic letter, double column. T-p in red and black, woodcut printer’s device, decorated initials. T-p a little soiled, occasional yellowing, slight foxing along a few outer and lower edges, a handful of gatherings browned, very small tear from upper edge of b7. A good copy in lovely contemporary English calf, remains of one tie, double blind ruled, centre panels with parallel rolls in blind of saints’ full figures within gothic arch (signed SC), raised bands, cross-hatching in blind to compartments, title inked to two edges, upper joint cracked but firm, small repairs to corners and at foot of spine. C16 ms. ‘Ex libris Dominici Laureae’ and C17 ms. ‘us. de ff. Capucins du Con.[vent] de Grasse’ to t-p, occasional C16 annotations.

The lovely Gothic binding was produced by the S.G. binder in England. The blind rolls which occupy the centre panel, with full-length figures of St John the Evangelist, St Barbara, St Katherine and St Nicholas, are a variation on his usual tetrapartite panel design c.1520 in Weale, ‘Bookbindings and Rubbings’, 158. We have not traced the rolls in any major bibliography. S.G.’s style is also reminiscent—or vice versa—of the panel design used by the G.R. binder in London c.1530 (Goldschmidt, ‘Goth. & Ren.’, 149). Oldham records a roll used by S.G. in 1530 (‘Eng. Blind-Stamped Bind.’, FL6). In the C17, this copy was in the Capuchin convent of Grasse, in Navarre.

Exquisitely bound Jehan Petit edition—his second of this work—with his trademark elegant Gothic letter. Guillaume Pepin (d.1533) was professor of theology at Paris and a Dominican from the convent of St Louis at Évreux. Entirely devoted to the Virgin Mary, ‘Rosarium’ gathers 55 sermons corresponding to the 55 beads of the rosary—a practice he endeavoured to promote—plus 5 sermons on the Passion, for private piety. ‘The elegant style of his writing, his outstanding erudition and the doctrinal richness of his message earned him great fame in France, which he travelled extensively to preach’ (‘Testi mariani’, 103). The 50 Marian sermons celebrate the Virgin as Rosa Mystica and all the virtues associated with her, such as faith, patience, compassion, martyrdom, charity, and so on. Every ten sermons is one on the suffering of Christ, during circumcision, his prayer in Gethsemane, flagellation, the wearing of the crown of thorns, and crucifixion. The letter to the reader introduces the Rosa Mystica with a bewitching garden scene, imbued with the rhetoric and physicality of medieval mysticism; there the faithful can yield in their senses, heart and soul to prayer, surrounded by the scent of flowers and a fragrance more enticing than Arabic incense. The second part comprises a shorter ‘Rosarium’ with seven sermons. The early annotator of this copy—probably Dominicus Lauria—highlighted passages on Mary’s ‘duplex virginitas’ and the meaning of the bigger beads, and glossed Pepin’s sources, especially Jerome and Augustine.

Only Dayton copy recorded in the US.Not in French Books, BM STC Fr. or Brunet.
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