TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Boxed set of drawings medieval and post-medieval art

In French, manuscript drawings on paper, one illuminated leaf on parchment
France (Paris), c. 1875-1910(?)

TM 1127

184 leaves, of which 1 parchment, 5 paper, and 178 tracing paper, pasted into notebooks as follows: 46 (vol. 1) + 9 (vol. 2) + 88 (vol. 3) leaves + 41 loose leaves, modern numbering in pencil, 1-42, including 29bis, 31bis, 34bis, 34ter (vol. 1), 1-9 (vol. 2), 1-86 + 91-92 (vol. 3; no leaves with numbers 87-90), 1-41 (loose leaves), the entire space of the leaves filled with numerous pen and ink drawings in black ink, some hand-colored with colored pencils, the parchment leaf is illuminated in colors and liquid gold and silver, paper leaves: c. 298 x 200 mm. (some of the loose leaves are smaller), parchment leaf: 297 x 180 mm., some of the drawings are accompanied by notes in French written in a very small hand in ink providing manuscript references of the sources, tears on ff. 1 and 2 of vol. 1, some stains and wear to other leaves, but in overall very good condition, loose leaves kept in transparent plastic pockets, all kept in a modern custom-made cloth case (dimensions 332 x 235 mm.), in excellent condition.

This remarkable collection of hundreds of drawings constitutes a treasure trove for the study of the reception of medieval art in the nineteenth century. Perhaps a preparatory set of designs for one of the many publications on medieval art of the period (although we have not been able to identify it or the artist), these drawings reflect the revival of interest in manuscript illumination that finds expression in the work of Henry Shaw and J. W. Bradley in England and Ernst Guillot and Auguste Racinet in France, among many others. Publication of magazines such as l’Enluminure in France further fueled the fascination of amateurs and professionals alike for illumination.


1. These drawings were made by an unidentified French artist or lithographer, most likely in the last quarter of the nineteenth or early twentieth century in Paris. Vol. 1, f. 3, includes a note dated 1908, allowing us to date the drawings before this date.

The fine craftsmanship and careful details of these drawings suggest they are the work of a professional artist, rather than an amateur calligrapher or miniaturist.  They could possibly have been preliminary drawings for publication or have been created as a private (and extensive) sample book.

Text and Illustration

The drawings are executed in black ink, some hand-colored with colored pencils.  Although most drawings copy medieval art, there are also some post-medieval examples.  Notes that identify many of the drawings are written in a tiny handwriting (sometimes illegible) and add precious information especially to the less known works.

Summarized descriptions of the drawings:

Vol. 1:

f. 1, Angels and a border decorated with birds and butterflies; Miroir du Monde, fragment; Tristan and Isolde (initials and border decoration); Ballades de Christine de Pisan (border decoration); Lancelot en prose (initials and border decoration);

f. 2, Fourteenth-century nun and Coronation of the Virgin; animals; fifteenth-century border enclosing a man with a book, escutcheon, with a note “BN”;

f. 3, Four coats of arms on post-medieval foliage border; naturalistic flowers; art nouveau book binding and edges with a note “Illustration 25 février 1908”;

f. 4, coat of arms: fascé de gueules et lion rampant couronné; post-medieval foliage and flowers;

f. 5, [Using the grid method of drawing], post-medieval initial; initial with note “anges du Jugement (...) Campo Santo, Pise XIVe” (15th c.); quadrilobe with a man holding a banderole inscribed “Beati qui lucent. Qm  solaru..,” with a note “Béatitude”; a haloed figure holding a banderole inscribed “Beati pauperes,” with a note below “Beati qui lucent. / Couronne de lumière de la cath. (...) la chapelle (...) en (...),” and with a note, ”heures de Jouvenel des Ursins, XVe s. / Brulé en 71 (...) de Paris (...)”;

f. 6, St. Stephen, with a note “Saint Etienne portant les pierres de sa (...) prov de Martin (...) XVe s.”; Crucifixion, with a note “XIVe s. n° 9561 (…)”; border decoration and figures playing violin, positive organ, tromba marina, harp, lute and psaltery, with a note “page d’un livre d’heures”;

f. 7, Three 13th-c. penwork initials; 8 large decorated initials with the following notes “initiale de Flavius Josephus XIIe s.,” “initiale du XIVe s.,” “Ms f. n° 2092 Bibl. Nat. XIVe s.,” “initiale d’antiphonaire XIVe s. n° 6426 B. de Bruges (...),” “Initiale d’antiphonaire Ms Ital XIVe s,” “Vierges chantant XVe s. Miniature de Fra Benedetto S(...) de (…) de couvent de S Marc à Florence”;

f. 8, Seven initials with notes “Initiale du Rational de Guill Durand, ms. Italien XIVe s.,” “Initiale d’un Flavius Josephus XIIe s.”; arms of France with a crown; portrait of a lady with a note “J. de Laval d’après Francesco Laurana”;

f. 9, Angel holding two crowns, standing on a lion presenting a coat of arms with a note “Fra Angelico (...)”; 6 Italian decorated borders;

f. 10, Figures and decorated borders, 19th century(?);

f. 11, Note, “Grotesques tirés d’1 ms du XVe s. Bibl. de Laon”;

f. 12, A lady holding a carafe and on her head a basket; angels, animals, with a note “Details de (...) d’Incunable”;

f. 13, “Madone de Crivelli,” angels, hybrids, etc.;

f. 14, Angels and figures, with notes “Dessins d’un incunable”, “St Sebastien”, “Sancta Lucia”;

f. 15, Symbols of the evangelists with a note “Evangeliaire de St Medard” (Paris, BnF, MS lat. 8850); “Mss de Laon et de Soissons”;

f. 16, “Mss de Laon et de Soissons”;

f. 17, “Rationale de Guillaume Durand”; “Pinturicilio”; “Crucifixion ave l’Eglise et la Synagogue” ; decorated border with the motto “Plus est en vous” and the coat of arms of France; “Pise Nicolo de Pietro, le mauvais larron”, “Pierre tombale 1440”; the Holy Trinity with a note “Imprimé par S. Vostre” and “Cette representation de la Saint Père (…) 3 visages combinés a été desce(...) par le St P. (...?)”; “Pierres tombales de St Sulpice au Fauvert(?) Auxerre Abbaye(?)”;

f. 18, “Bordure XIVe ms de Soissons” (15th c.); “incunable” with two unicorns and a coat of arms;

f. 19, “Ms de Laon,” “XVe s.”;

f. 20, St. John on Patmos, last third of the 15th c., with notes “Ms de Laon,” “XVe s.”;

ff. 21-22, “Bordure de ms Italien XIV.,” “Bibl de Soissons”;

ff. 23-24, Post-medieval figures, animals and decorated borders;

f. 25, “Reliquaire de Saint Laurent et Saint Vincent de Cregy,” post-medieval borders, hand-colored;

f. 26, 15th c. border with a note “Bréviaire de la Bibl/ de Laon”; inside which there are figures playing music, one of which with a note “Memling,” another “sainte Cecile (...)”; others “Lion d’armoiries,” “Sainte Euphemia (…),” “Sainte Marguerite”;

f. 27, “Sainte (...) Holbein” holding a chalice; “Sainte Catherine (Lucas de Leyde)”;

f. 28, Saints; grotesques; “St Sebastien / Raffaelino del Garbo”;

f. 29, “Saint Lucie/Crivello,” “Diables de la tentation de saint Antoine / Martin Schau (Schongauer)”; “St. Martin”;

f. 29bis, Copies after several artists: Eugène Grasset (1845-1917), Walter Crane (1845-1915), Memling, Gaudensio Ferrari, Georges de Feure (1868-1943);


f. 30, “J. Van Eyck”; “Roi René”; “Italie XIVe s.”;

f. 31, “St. Michel, Justus de Ghent”; “St. Gabriel”, “Wilhem de Cologne. 1440”, etc.;

f. 31bis, “Adoration des mages,” “Bordure tiré de l’Histoire Romaine,” ”Fond(?) de Mars(?),” 1 miniature du “Livre de Cuer d’Amours”;

f. 32, “La divine comédie. Tableau attribué au Roi René”; “Villeneuve les Avignon” (Coronation of the Virgin by Enguerrand Quarton;

f. 33, Details from the Burning Bush Triptych by Nicholas Froment (Aix-en-Provence), with note “Œuvres de Roi René”;

f. 34, Borders from manuscripts of Roi René; angels with notes “Incunable” and “Gaudensio Ferrari”;

f. 34bis, Three angels playing music, with a note “Liberale de Verone”; decorated borders with scenes of hunting, danse, eating and drinking in a forest, with a note “bordure d’incunble”; these elements surrounded by a border entitled “Bordure du Roi René”; three angels entitled “Perugino”; an angel with chalice of “Durer”;

f. 34ter, “Ms de Poitiers” (Poitiers, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 41, Psalter of Jeanne de Laval); Book of Hours of Roi René, the Death, coat of arms and the motto “En Dieu en soit” (cf. London, British Library, Egerton MS 1070);

f. 35, Tombstones, “Saint-Denis”; decorated borders;

f. 36, Tombstones from the Collegiate Church of Champeaux; decorated borders;

ff. 37-38, Details from the book of drawings of Vuillard de Honnecourt (Paris, BnF, MS fr. 19093);

f. 39, Grotesques, decorated borders;

f. 40, “Marie Magdalen Lucas de Leyde”; “Saint Jérome et son lion / Antonio da Fiore”; “Archange de Rembrandt”, “St Jean / Lucas de Leyde”; “Ange : Raphael”, “Vierge : as(...?) / Pinturichio”; “Saint Michel: Francesco Fromani Florence”; “Crivelli”; “St Jean : Memling”; “La Sibylle de Cumes: Baldini”;

f. 41, Crucifixion with the note “vers 1370 - Retable XIVe s. - A.H. II 190”; Marriage of the Virgin with the note “Pinturicelio”; “Trinité italienne”; Virgin in prayer of “Perugin”; within a 15th c. border a devil playing bagpipes with a human head, with the note “Caricature contre Luther”; three devils with the note “Jacques Callot (1592-1636) / Tentation de St Antoine”; a hybrid with the note “Breughel”;

f. 42, Manuscript leaf with the Annunciation with the note “XIVe s. Psautier de la Reine Marie”; mermaids, grotesques, hybrids;

Vol. 2:

ff. 1-9, Decorated and historiated initials from the 13th century;

Vol. 3:

ff. 1-86, Decorated and historiated initials from the 11th to the 15th centuries;

Loose leaves:

f. 1, Illuminated full-color parchment bifolium with text, decorated borders, and initials inspired by a fifteenth-century French Missal;

ff. 2-41, Mainly decorated and historiated initials.

The admiration for medieval art and architecture during the nineteenth century, whether we call it the “Gothic Revival,” or “Neo-Gothic,” finds full expression in this group of drawings (Hindman, et al., 2001; Hindman and Light, 2015; Emery and Morowitz, 2003).  This interest in medieval art, and in particular, manuscript illumination, was both made possible, and promoted, by the development of new reproductive techniques, especially lithography and chromolithography, which introduced these works to a wider audience. Manuals that reproduced details of medieval illumination, including ornamental borders and decorative alphabets, were popular as sources for professional artists and amateurs alike.  One of the earliest and most influential examples of this genre is Henry Shaw’s, Illuminated Ornaments Selected from Manuscripts (1833).  In France, a great popularizer of medieval art and ornament in this vein was the French artist and lithographer, Ernest Guillot, who between 1892 and 1898 published at least six books of drawings made after medieval illuminations (for example Guillot, 1892, 1897, 1898, Literature, below). 

Although the identity of the artist who created the collection of drawings described here is unknown, there are certainly similarities in his or her work, and the work of Guillot, and others, who were interested in compiling vast repertoires of the details of medieval (and later) art. Whereas some nineteenth-century copies of medieval art are often stylized, naïve, and mediocre in quality, the excellent craftmanship of our unknown artist is immediately evident in the drawings. He appears to approach the works of art as if he was a researcher: examining and reproducing every detail with minute precision. The collection may also provide us information of lost works: for instance, on f. 5 in volume 1 there is a detail from the Hours of Jouvenel des Ursins, a manuscript that was lost in a fire.


Guillot, E. Alphabets de style: Moyen-âge, Renaissance d'après des documents authentiques d'après des documents authentiques des XIe, XIIIe, XIVe, XVe, et XVIème siècles, Paris, 1892.

Guillot, E. Ornementation des manuscrits au Moyen-âge: recueil de documents, lettres ornées, bordures, miniatures & tirés des principaux manuscrits de la Bibliothèque nationale, de diverses bibliothèques et des documents de l'époque, Paris, 1892.

Online: https://digital.clarkart.edu/digital/collection/p16245coll1/id/131032

Guillot, E. Eléments d'ornementation pour l'enluminure: tirés des manuscrits des imprimés des estampes de la Bibliothèque nationale et des monuments historiques de l'époque, Paris, 1897.

Guillot, E. Cours élémentaire d'enluminure à l'usage des commerçants: documents du XIIIe siècle, Paris, [1898].

Emery, E. and L. Morowitz. Consuming the Past: The Medieval Revival in Fin-de-siècle France, Aldershot, 2003.  

Hindman, S., M. Camille, N. Rowe and R. Watson. Manuscript illumination in the Modern Age: Recovery and Reconstruction, Evanston, 2001.

Hindman, Sandra and Laura Light. Neo-Gothic: Book Production and Medievalism, Primer 5, Les Enluminures, 2015.

Shaw, Henry, and Sir Frederick Madden. Illuminated Ornaments Selected from Manuscripts and Early Printed Books, from the Sixth to the Seventeenth Centuries, London, 1833.


Tixier, Frédéric. “Un fou de lettres? Les « abécédaires » et autres enluminures médiévales de Jules Maciet au musée des Arts décoratifs de Paris,” Histoire et civilisation du livre 17 (2021), pp. 303-315.

Online Resources

“Victorian book illumination, histories of illumination, and manuals and books of instruction,” The Victorian Web

“Collection Maciet: une collection unique au monde,” Musée des Arts Décoratifs

TM 1127