TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Album of Engravings with Scenes from the New Testament  

93 engravings by LĂ©onard Gaultier
France, prints c. 1576-1580, album c. 17th-18th century

TM 1033

i + 47 + i, folios on heavy laid paper, 19th-century(?) foliation in light red ink, 1-47, (collation i4 ii-iii8 iv4 v8 vi5 [3 a singleton] vii-viii4 ix2), unruled, text written intermittently for the most part on verso sides (ff. 7v-11v, 13v-15v, 18v, 23v, 27v-28v, 31v-33v, 40v, 42v-44v, and 47r) in brown ink in a French (18th-century?) cursive script on up to 32 lines, NINETY THREE ENGRAVED PRINTS by Léonard Gaultier, in black ink on ivory laid paper, each cut close to the platemark (each approx. c. 61 x 61 mm., at the largest c. 66 x 66 mm.), pasted one- or two-per-page on recto sides, with one duplicate print pasted to f. 38v, slight foxing to some album leaves, otherwise in good condition. Bound in 18th-century(?) laid blue paper over pasteboard, spine reinforced with parchment scraps with black ink and gold leaf rinceaux border decorations from a 16th-century or later illuminated manuscript, over brown leather, the corners bent and edges worn. Dimensions 113 x 160 mm.

An album with 93 prints by the important Renaissance engraver Léonard Gaultier, annotated with captions in French. Engraved when Gaultier was between the ages of 15 and 19, these prints witness the artist’s journey from apprentice to master, with the final plates advertising his privilege from the king of France in 1580. The album offers unusual and rare evidence concerning the early reception of the print series; assembled in the 17th or 18th century, it includes captions along with brief comments on the sequence and quality of the prints.


1. Plates engraved c. 1576-1580 by Léonard Gaultier (dated 1576, 1577, 1578, 1579, and 1580). Gaultier is later recorded as personally owning the plates, having acquired them in 1591 (Leutrat, pp. 36-37).

2. In a later stage of production, probably 17th- to 18th-century, the prints were trimmed near the platemark, pasted to the recto side of paper sheets, and gathered into the present album. The upper paste down is inscribed “Estampes faites en 1576” in light red ink, the same hand that foliated the leaves.

3. Summaries of the New Testament written in French on the verso sides of many of the pages. Notes interspersed throughout this text contain comments that question the order of the engravings in the album, indicating that the prints had been pasted in at an earlier stage. The same hand also inscribed the name “Stephanus de Laune” vertically in the left margin of the upper fly leaf (perhaps an attribution, incorrect, for the engravings to Étienne Delaune).

4. “Ex Libris D. de rubies” inscribed on upper pastedown in brown ink. Possibly Domenico de Rossi (1647-1729), member of the de Rossi family of engravers and publishers, who in 1709 inherited the printshop of Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi, near the church of Santa Maria della Pace in Rome.

Text and Illustration

Ninety-three engravings, many with the artist's monogram (indicated below with “L” and “LG”), the subjects as follows, with text intermittently written on the verso sides:

f. 1, Trinity (LG); Marriage of Joseph and Mary (LG), with engraved text: “Les espousailles de Joseph et de Marie;” inscribed “A moi” (“mine”) in black ink between the pasted-in engravings;

[f. 1v, blank];

f. 2, Sacrifice of Zacharias, with engraved text: “le sacrafice de zacharie;” Annunciation (dated 1577[?]); inscribed “Anevuls(?)” in black ink between the pasted-in engravings;

[f. 2v, blank];

f. 3, Annunciation (dated 1576), with engraved text: “Ave maria gratia plena dominus tecum b(e)n(e)dicta tu;” Visitation (L), with engraved text: “la Visitation de Helizabeet en ces ncte [sic];”

[f. 3v, blank];

f. 4, Birth of John the Baptist (LG, dated 1576), with engraved text: “Helizabet a enfante Un beau filz;” Nativity (LG, dated 1576), with engraved text: “la nativite de nostre saulveur Jesus Crist;”

[f. 4v, blank];

f. 5, Massacre of the Innocents, with engraved text: “herode faict occire les petis innosens;” Return of the Holy Family to Nazareth (LG), with engraved text: “comment ioseph retovrne en la cite de nazaret;” inscribed “Dessins m...[?]” in black ink;

[f. 5v, blank];

f. 6, Annunciation to the Shepherds (LG), with engraved text: “l'ange s'apparut aulx pasteurs veillans sur leur troppeaux;” Adoration of the Magi (LG, dated 1576), with engraved text: “l'adoration des trois Roix;”

[f. 6v, blank];

f. 7, Obedience and Adolescence of Jesus (LG), with engraved text: “l obeiscense de iesus en son addolecence;” Christ Among the Doctors, with engraved text: “comme iehs christ fvt trovv avec les doctev;”

f. 7v, verses for John 2:1-4, etc., and verses for Matthew 2:1-4, etc.;

f. 8, Wedding at Cana (LG), with engraved text: “les nosce darchiclin;” John the Baptist Preaching in the Wilderness (dated 1576), with engraved text: “l exortation de sainct iehan av dessert;”

f. 8v, verses for Matthew 3:13, 16, etc., and verses for Luke 3:15-18, etc.;

f. 9, Baptism of Christ, with engraved text: “le babtesme de iesus christ av flevve iovrdain;” John the Baptist Testifies for Christ, with engraved text: “Sainct iehan rent tesmoignages de iesvs christ;”

f. 9v, verses for John 9:1-2, 13, 21, and verses for Luke 9:57-60, etc.;

f. 10, Healing of the Blind Man (LG); Christ the Teacher(?);

f. 10v, verses for Mark 10:13- 6, and verses for Luke 10:1-2;

f. 11, Christ among Children (LG, dated 1580, with “cvm pri. reg.”); The Mission of the Seventy (LG);

f. 11v, verses for Luke 9:18-19, etc., and verses for Luke 9:10-11, with a comment on the sequence of the prints: “d’ou il sait que cette Estampe aurait dû être placée avant celle ci depuis? L’action qu’elle represente devant preceder, celle des Versets 18 et 19;”

f. 12, Peter Declares Jesus the Messiah (LG); Jesus Sends Out the Twelve (LG);

[f. 12v, blank];

f. 13, Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple; engraved: “ihs chasce les marchans;” The Raising of Lazarus (LG);

f. 13v, verses for Matthew 22:1-3, 7, 11, 13, and verses for Matthew 13:1-4;

f. 14, The Parable of the Marriage Feast (LG); Christ Denounces the Scribes and Pharisees (LG);

f. 14v, verses for Matthew 20:1-7, etc., and for Matthew 20:17, 20-22, etc.;

f. 15, The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (LG); James and John Seek Honor (LG);

f. 15v, verses for Matthew 21:23-26, etc., and verses for Matthew 21:1-2, 9, etc., with a comment on the scene depicted in the print for the parable of the stone that the builders rejected: “Dans le lointain de l'Estampe on voit en action le passage de la parabole den Versets et 39;”

f. 16, Christ in the Temple (LG); Entry into Jerusalem (LG);

[f. 16v, blank];

f. 17, Teachings on the Coming of the Judgment (LG, with “cvm pri. reg.” and “acheve le xx octob / ætatis xix 1580” [cf. IFF 116]); Nicodemus Comes to Christ by Night (dated 1576) [cf. IFF 38], with engraved text: “nicodesme vint de nvict a iesv;”

[f. 17v, blank];

The second engraving on f. 17 is slightly smaller than others in the set and is closely modeled after Dürer's Saint Jerome in His Study (1514). It is notable that these two prints on appear together on f. 17, the first engraving being the culmination of the series and the second dated to 1576, the year the series was begun.

f. 18, Christ Foretells the Destruction of the Temple (LG); Parable of the Talents (LG);

f. 18v, verses for Matthew 8:28-20, etc.;

f. 19, Christ at the Feast of Tabernacles (LG); The Gadarene Demoniacs;

[f. 19v, blank];

f. 20, Christ Heals a Leper; Christ on the Lake;

[f. 20v, blank];

f. 21, Christ Teaching the Multitude (LG); Christ Teaching the Multitude (LG);

[f. 21v, blank];

f. 22, Christ Healing the Sick (LG); Christ Teaching (LG);

[f. 22v, blank];

f. 23, Christ Driving Out a Devil (LG); The Man Healed of the Withered Hand (LG, with “cvm pri. reg.” engraved on the lintel over a doorway);

f. 23v, verses for Matthew 15:21-22, etc.;

f. 24, Christ Journeying to the House of a Pharisee (LG); The Canaanite Woman (LG);

[f. 24v, blank];

f. 25, Parable of Weeds in the Wheat (LG); Christ Telling His Disciples of the Parable of the Dragnet (LG);

[f. 25v, blank];

f. 26, Christ Reading Isaiah in Nazareth (LG, dated 1577); Christ and the Woman of Samaria (LG);

[f. 26v, blank];

f. 27, Christ Heals the Paralyzed Man (LG); The Miraculous Draught of Fishes (LG, dated 1577);

f. 27v, verses for Luke 6:39, 42, 48, etc., and verses for John 6:60-61, etc., with comments “Celles qui font le sujet de ce chapître a partir du Premier Verses,” and a note that the Sea of Galilea is the site of the village depicted in the print: “La ville qu'on apperçoit est sur le Lac de Tyberiade;”

f. 28, The Parable of the Blind Man (LG); Christ Teaching in the Synagogue (LG);

f. 28v, verses for Mark 6:21, etc.;

f. 29, John the Baptist Beheaded (LG); Christ Heals the Sick (LG);

[f. 29v, blank];

f. 30, The Prodigal Son (LG, cf. IFF 18); Christ and the Centurion;

The engraving with The Prodigal Son is an inverted scene after Dürer's print of the same subject (ca. 1496).

f. 30v, with a comment on the print: “Cette Estampe paraît mal timbrée” (“This print appears poorly stamped”), followed by verses and summaries of Matthew 6 and Matthew 12:9, 46, etc., and verses for Mark 6:31-34, etc.;

f. 31, Christ Continues the Sermon (LG); Christ Healing a Deaf Man (LG, dated 1579);

f. 31v, verses for Mark 6:47-48, etc., verses for John 6:16-18, etc., and verses for John 6: 8-10, etc.;

f. 32, Christ Praying while His Disciples are in a Boat on a Windy Sea (LG); The Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes (LG);

f. 32v, verses for John 3:23-25, etc.;

f. 33, The Testimony of John (L), engraved: “Le second temoignage de sainct iehan;” Christ Bids Two Disciples of John the Baptist to Follow Him (LG), engraved: “devlx disciple de sainct iean svivent iesvs;”

f. 33v, verses for Matthew 16:13, verses for Matthew 16:5-6, and verses for Matthew 16:20, with comments “Le moment mis en action en cette Estampe est aussi difficile a decouvrir que la procedent car ce peut être le moment chap. 16, verset 15,” and also “On ce peut être celui verset 24;”

f. 34, The Confession and Primacy of Peter (LG); Christ Refuses the Pharisees a Sign from Heaven (LG).

[f. 34v, blank;]

f. 35, Parable of the Clean Hands (LG; cf. IFF 16); Parables of the Lost Sheep, the Woman with Pieces of Silver and the Prodigal Son (LG; cf. IFF 112).

[f. 35v, blank;]

f. 36, The Ten Thousand Talents (LG, with “cvm pri. regis”; cf. IFF 86); Healing a Blind Man (LG; cf. IFF 107);

[f. 36v, blank;]

f. 37, The Ten Lepers are Cleansed (LG); The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven will be Humble like a Child (LG);

[f. 37v, blank;]

f. 38, The Good Samaritan (LG); Christ in the House of Mary and Martha (LG);

f. 38v, The Good Shepherd (LG) [first of two impressions];

f. 39, Christ Giving His Mission to the Disciples (LG); The Good Shepherd (LG) [second of two impressions];

Two impressions of The Good Shepherd appear facing each other on f. 38v and f. 39, the first a dark impression trimmed inside the plate mark, the second a better impression, trimmed less severely;

[f. 39v, blank;]

f. 40, Christ Healing (LG); Christ Driving Out an Unclean Spirit (LG);

f. 40v, verses for Luke 8:41, 49-52, etc., and verses for Matthew 9:9, etc.;

f. 41, Raising of Jairus' Daughter (LG); Christ Receiving the Envoys of St. John (LG);

[f. 41v, blank;]

f. 42, Temptation of Christ in the Desert (LG; cf. IFF 81), engraved: “La tentation de iesvs christ av desert;” Breaking the Sabbath (LG; cf. IFF 53);

f. 42v, verses for Mark 3:1-3, etc., and verses for Matthew 4:18-19, etc.;

f. 43, Christ Heals the Withered Hand (LG; cf. IFF 56); Calling of Peter and Andrew (LG);

f. 43v, verses for Matthew 9:3-4, 35-36, with note “Ce qui est mis en action en cette Estampe peus avoi trait à 2. passages de ce chapitre,” and verses for Matthew 9:27-29, etc.;

f. 44, The Paralytic (LG, dated 1578; cf. IFF 71); Healing Two Blind (LG);

f. 44v, verses for Luke 16:1-6, and verses for Matthew 17:1-5;

f. 45, Parable of the Unjust Steward (LG, cf. IFF 13); The Transfiguration (LG);

[f. 45v, blank;]

f. 46, Saint John on Patmos (LG, cf. IFF 60);

[f. 46v, blank;]

f. 47, The Chief Priests and Pharisees (LG), with verses for John 11:47-50, etc., written below the pasted-in engraving;

[f. 47v, blank.]

This album contains 93 engravings representing 92 plates (with one duplicate) by the engraver Léonard Gaultier (Mainz 1561-Paris 1641). Text from the New Testament in French is written in a single hand, unruled and intermittently, on the verso sides of the pages facing the pasted-in prints (with the exception of the final page, f. 47, with text under the print). Each text includes a small drawing used as a symbol to identify the corresponding image. These symbols are in the form of various crosses, hearts, manicules, squares, dots, jugs, animals, flowers, and other shapes. From the intermittent way in which the text was added it appears to be from a significantly later date than the compilation of the album. In places the writer also records observations on the quality of the engravings or the quality of the prints, clearly indicating that he or she was not the same person who pasted the prints into the album. These notes appear on f. 11v and f. 43v to question the order in which the prints have been pasted, on f. 15v to comment on the actions of figures taking place in the background of the scene, with various other brief comments on the imagery throughout, and on  f. 30v to comment on the quality of one of the impressions, noting that the print appears to be a poor impression.

A key contributor to the development of the portrait engraving, Léonard Gaultier was engraver to three kings of France (Henry III, Henry IV, and Louis XIII) and to Marie de Medici. He is considered one of the most accomplished engravers of his generation, completing close to 1,000 pieces from his own designs over a very long career.  A good deal about the artist's life is known (see, most recently, Leutrat 2016).

This series of prints witnesses Gaultier's journey from apprentice to master. Dated 1576, 1577, 1578, 1579, and 1580, Gaultier engraved the 108 plates for these prints between the ages of 15 and 19. Born into a family of goldsmiths on both his maternal and paternal sides, Gaultier was later a student of the goldsmith and engraver Étienne Delaune. Many of the engravings are modeled after a series of anonymous woodcuts in La tapisserie de l'Eglise chrestienne et catholique, published in Paris in 1544, as noted by Brugerolles and Guillet (pp. 2-3). Others are clearly modeled on prints by well-known artists, including an engraving on f. 17 after Dürer's Saint Jerome in His Study (1514). The final plate, also on f. 17, gives both the date and the artist's age upon completion of the series: “acheve le xx octob / ætatis xix 1580” (“Completed the 20th of October, age 19, 1580”). This final plate is also engraved “cvm pri. reg.” (“cum privilegio regis”), advertising the privilege he had then been granted by the king of France. The artist is later recorded as personally owning the metal printing matrices, having acquired the plates for 15 écus soleil from his father's debtors in 1591 (Leutrat, pp. 36-37).

The set of 93 prints from 92 engravings in this album is among of the most complete known. The definitive set of 108 prints is found in Paris at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (Cabinet des Estampes, Ed. 12 rés.; see Linzeler, Inventaire du fonds Français [=IFF], 13-120). A set of 81 prints from the series are in Washington D.C. at the National Gallery of Art (Rosenwald Collection, 1964.8.944-1025). In the nineteenth century Pierre-Jean Mariette published the series in his Abecedario, counting 104 plates (Mariette, p. 287). It is possible this album was assembled in the orbit of the Mariette family of print dealers who are known to have assembled albums on behalf of their clients (Griffiths, 2003). However, the observations contained in the notes suggest the album was used in an engraver's workshop. This would perhaps explain the name “G. de rubies” inscribed on the upper paste down, suggesting the album was later owned by a member of the de Rossi family of engravers.


Brugerolles, E., and D. Guillet, “Léonard Gaultier, graveur parisien sous les règnes de Henri III, Henri IV, et Louis XIII,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 135 (2000), pp. 1-24.

Bryan, M. Dictionary of Painters and Engravers: Biographical and Critical, vol. 2, London, 1889.

Griffiths, A. “The archaeology of the print,” in Collecting Prints and Drawings in Europe, c. 1500–1750, ed. C. Baker, C. Elam, and G. Warwick, Burlington, VT, 2003, pp. 9-27.

Leutrat, E. “Feu honnorable homme Leonart Gaultier, vivant maistre graveur a Paris. Nouveaux documents sur l’estampe en France au débat du XVIIIe siècle,” Documents d’histoire parisienne 18 (2016), pp. 25-42.

Linzeler, A. Inventaire du fonds Français: Graveurs du XVIe siècle, v. 1, Paris, 1932-1935, pp. 371ff.

Mariette, P.-J. Abecedario, v. 3, ed. P. de Chennevières and A. de Montaiglon, Paris, 1854-1856.

Online Resources

Gilles Corrozet (1510-1568), La tapisserie de l'Eglise chrestienne et catholique, 1544


TM 1033