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les Enluminures

Prayer Book

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
France (Lyon), c. 1490-1510

TM 1018
  • 21 600 €
  • £19,400
  • $24,000

i (paper) + i (parchment) + 58 + ii (parchment) + i (paper) folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil, 1-61 (includes the parchment flyleaves), complete (collation i6 ii-iii8 iv6 v10 vi6 vii8 viii6), no leaf signatures or catchwords, ruled in red ink (justification 110 x 67 mm.), written in brown ink in cursive bookhand (“lettre bâtarde”) on 23 lines, capitals highlighted in yellow throughout, 1-line initials in gold alternating on blue or burgundy grounds with gold highlights throughout, matching line-fillers throughout, fine 2-line foliate initials in white and gray-blue on burgundy grounds with gold highlights at the beginning of all prayers, two fine 4-line foliate initials in white and gray-blue on burgundy grounds with gold highlights, of which one is in-filled with the face of Christ (f. 8), ONE SMALL WOODCUT illustration pasted into the book, TWENTY-SIX 7- to 9-line FINELY EXECUTED MINIATURES depicting saints flanked by Renaissance architectural frames, paint flaking in some areas of the miniatures (see Illustration, ff. 47, 50, 51, 54, 56, 58), a few minor stains, otherwise in excellent condition. Bound in the eighteenth century for Michel de la Cour d’Amonville in brown calf, gilt ex-libris on the front cover: ”M DELA COUR D AMONVILLE,” gilt title on the spine “ORATIONES,” marbled endpapers and edges, leather worn especially on the spine and corners, otherwise in good condition. Dimensions 180 x 125 mm.  

Delightful Prayer Book illustrated with an extensive cycle of miniatures of saints illustrating the Suffrages by an artist in Lyons, the Master of Keble 7, as well as a pasted-in woodcut.  As interesting as its origin is its continued active use in the eighteenth-century, witnessed by the binding and elegant title page.  Lyon was an important center for illumination at this time and has traditionally been neglected in the scholarly literature.


1. Written and illuminated in Lyon, c. 1490-1510, as indicated by the style of the script and illumination. The locally venerated saints in the calendar situate this manuscript to the east of France, to a region reaching from Lyon as north as Langres and as far south as Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux. The prayers and accompanying miniatures dedicated to the three martyrs, Felix, Fortunat and Achileo, founders of the Church in Valence (around 100 km south of Lyon) and to St. Annemund, archbishop of Lyon, indicate that the book was made for use in the diocese of either Valence or Lyon.

2. Belonged to Michel de la Cour d’Amonville (1690-1756), parliamentary jurist and poet; his armorial bookplate, inside front cover, coat of arms added at the end of the text, and his name gold-tooled on the front cover.

3. Belonged to Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843), the ninth child (of fifteen) of King George III of England (1738–1820), who assembled a large library of more than fifty thousand books and manuscripts, many of them theological (Online Resources; and Pettigrew, 1827, vol. 1, part 1, p. cxcv, no. 142, “acquired from the collection of the late Mr. Bindley,” and described as including a portrait, printed on vellum, of Michel de la Cour d’Amonville, now lacking); his sale, London, Evans, 1844, Bibliotheca Sussexiana …, part two, Manuscripts, lot 264.

4. Verso front paper fly leaf, No. 96, in ink, and evidence of a book plate, now removed; in pencil, front paper fly leaf, verso, notes from a French dealer.

5. Private European Collection.


f. 1, Blank, with an added title transcribed in gold capitals in the eighteenth century, “Orationes devotissimae Christo dicatae Virginique Deiparae”;

ff. 2-7v, Calendar, including St. Clarus of Vienne, abbot (2 Jan), St. Didier, bishop of Langres (23 May), St. Ferreol, martyr and patron of Besançon (16 Jun), St. Desire, bishop of Besançon (27 Jul), St. Donatus, bishop of Besançon (7 Aug), St. Philibert of Jumièges, whose relics are in Tournus in Burgundy (20 Aug), St. Justus, bishop of Lyon (2 Sep), St. Leodegar, bishop of Autun (2 Oct), St. Restitutus, first bishop of Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux (7 Oct); 

ff. 8-10, Oracio valde devota de passione christi et compassione sue matris virginis marie, incipit, “O pie ihesu recordare, Quam penaliter et quam care, In ligno crucis liberasti [sic]...” [Chevalier, Rep. Hymn., no. 13405];

Prayer dedicated to the Passion of Christ and the compassion of his mother, the Virgin Mary.

f. 10r-v, incipit, “Domine sancte, pater omnipotens, eterne deus...”;

ff. 10v-11, incipit, “O bone ihesu, per tuam pyssimam misericordiam esto michi ihesus, quid est ihesus nisi plasmator, nisi redemptor, nisi salvator...”;

Prayer to be said kneeling before an image of the Crucifix.

f. 11r-v, Alia oracio multum utilis et devota, incipit, “Salva me rex eterne glorie ...”;

ff. 11v-12, [the seven prayers of St. Gregory], incipit, “O bone ihesu christe adoro te in cruce pendentem ...”;

ff. 12v-13, [Anima Christi, to be said during the Eucharist], incipit, “Anima christi sanctifica me ...”;

ff. 13-14v, [Prayer of Bede on the Seven Last Words], incipit, “Oracio venerabilis bede: Domine ihesu christe qui septem verba die ultimo vite tue in cruce pendens dixisti ...”;

ff. 14v-16v, [prayer of St. Gregory], incipit, “Domine exaudi oracionem meam quia iam cognosco tempus meum prope est ...”;

ff. 16v-17, incipit, “Deprecor te domine ihesu christe per lacrimas quas effudisti...”;

Prayer attached to an indulgence of 1,000 years granted by Pope John XII; more often begins, “Domine ihesu christe precor te per lacrimas quas effudisti …”;

f. 17rv, [Prayer of St. Augustine], incipit, “Deus propicius esto michi peccatori et custos mei omnibus diebus ...”;

ff. 17v-18, [Prayer attached to an indulgence granted by Pope Boniface], incipit, “Deus qui voluisti pro redemptione mundi ...”;

ff. 18-20v, [Prayer of St. Augustine], incipit, “Dulcissime domine ihesu christe fili dei vivi qui de sinu patris ...”;

ff. 20v-21v, Misere mei;

ff. 21v-22, Salutacio domini nostri ihesu christi devota, incipit, “Ave domine ihesu christe verbum patris filius ...”;

f. 22, incipit, “O dulcissime atque piissime domine ihesu christe per lacrimas beatissime virginis marie dulcissime matris tue ...”;

ff. 22v-24, incipit, “Conditor celi et terre, rex regum et dominus ...”;

ff. 24-25, incipit, “Benedicte deus creator et salvator meus ...”;

f. 25rv, [Prayer about the Five Wounds of Christ, attached to an indulgence of 14,000 years], incipit, “Auxilientur michi omnes passiones tue domine ihesu christe que me deffendant ab omni dolore et angustia ...”;

ff. 25v-26v, Stabat Mater;

Each verse written on a separate line, missing the first 23 lines, which were added later in liquid gold to the empty space on f. 25v and above the first line on f. 26 in the eighteenth century for Michel de la Cour d’Amonville

ff. 26v-27, “Interveniat pro nobis que sumus domine ihesu christe nunc et in hora mortis...”;

ff. 27-29, O intemerata;

f. 29rv, [Five Joys of the Virgin, consisting of five verses beginning with “Ave”], incipit, “Ave cuius conceptio sollempni plena gaudio celestia terrestria nova replet leticia … [Chevalier, Rep. Hymn., no. 1744]”;

ff. 29v-31, Seven Joys of the Virgin;

f. 31, Oracio multum utilis contra temptacionem carnis, incipit, “Alvat stilla de manulla ...”;

f. 31rv, incipit, “Omnipotens sempiterne dominus meritis et precibus beate semper virginis marie ...”;

f. 31v, incipit, “Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui gloriose virginis marie corpus et animam ...”;

ff. 31v-32v, incipit, “Excellentissima gloriosissima atque sanctissima virgo semper maria mater domini nostri ihesu christi domina mea ...”;

ff. 32v-33, Oracio multum placens virgini marie si puro corde dicatur, incipit, “O gloriosa domina que filium dei portasti virgo eum concepisti...”;

f. 33rv, incipit, “Sancta maria mater domini nostri ihesu christi dulcissima in manus eiusdem filii tui ...”;

ff. 33v-34, incipit, “Virgo dei sanctissima corpus meum et animam meam sub tua suit custodia tu es princeps et domina ...”;

ff. 34-35v, incipit, “Salve mater salvatoris ...”;

ff. 36-38v, incipit, “Salve virgo virginum stella matutina. Sordidorum criminum vera medicina ...”;

ff. 38v-41, [five prayers to the Virgin preceded by a rubric of 34 lines recounting what St. John the Evangelist saw and heard of the conversation between the Virgin Mary and Christ at the moment of the Assumption], Legitur quod beatus iohannes evangelista postquam virgo maria fuisset assumpta in celum desideravit eam videre …, incipit, “Mediatrix omnium et fons vivus indesideranter rivos gracie copiose fundens...”; incipit, “Auxiliatur omnium et pacis eterne condumentum [sic] maria...”; incipit, “Reparatrix debilium et vulnerate anime efficaxissima medicina maria...”; incipit, “Illuminatrix cecorum et lucerna salutis fons gracie maria te flagito dulcissima mater dei...”; incipit, “Alleviatrix peccatorum quos dampnabiliter viciorum...”;

ff. 41v-45, Missus est;

f. 45, incipit, “Te deprecor ergo mitissimam piissimam misericordissimam...”;

ff. 45v-46v, Mass of the Virgin Mary;

ff. 47-59v, Suffrages of the Trinity, God the Father, Christ, Holy Spirit, Holy Face, Michael, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, Peter and Paul, James, Apostles, Stephen, Christopher, Lawrence, Felix, Fortunat and Achileo of Valence (incipit, “Deus, cuius splendore caritatis beati martires felix, fortunatus et achileus...”), Annemund, archbishop of Lyon, [f. 53v, blank], Nicholas, Claude, Anthony, Francis, Dominic, Anne, Mary Magdalene. Catherine, Margaret, Barbara, Apollonia, and the Virgin Mary (incipit, “Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui habudanciam [abundanciam] caritatis beatam mariam...”).  


The pictorial program here begins modestly with a small historiated initial on the first page following the calendar, augmented by a pasted-in colored woodcut, but expands in the Suffrages, which are comprehensively illustrated with twenty-six small miniatures, all by the Master of Keble 7, active in Lyons c. 1490-1510, and perhaps an assistant, who painted John the Baptist, Paul and Peter,  and James, which all share a darker hue, smoother faces with squinting eye, and softer gold frames (we thank Elliot Adam for this attribution; see also Burin,  2001).  Characteristic of the work of this artist readily seen here are the elongated almond shaped-eyes clearly outlined, the face of Christ with a beard with two points, the cool palette of the landscapes, and the metal-like treatment of the architecture with a brownish gold detailing the ornaments.  The morphology of his figures renders his style easily identifiable: the heads are large; the eyes are narrow; and the hair is often composed of heavy whirls of curls. His damask and brocade fabrics add lively color.

The Master of Keble 7 collaborated with and was active in the same workshop as the Master of Walters 447 and the Master of the Alarme de Mars. He likely also trained in the workshop of the Master of Guillaume Lambert.  His work is also seen in the eponymous Oxford, Keble College, MS 7, and in some miniatures in Lyons Bibliothèque municipal, MS 583.

The subjects are:

f. 8, 8-line high woodcut of the Agnus Dei on a burnished gold ground (pasted in);

f. 8, 4-line historiated initials of the face of Christ;

Twenty-six miniatures, mostly 8-lines, illustrating the Suffrages:

f. 47, Trinity;

f. 47, God the Father (7-line);

f. 47v, Resurrected Christ in the tomb;

f. 48, Pentecost;

f. 48v, St. Veronica;

f. 49, St. Michael;

f. 49v, St. John the Baptist;

f. 50, St. John the Evangelist;

f. 50v, St. Peter and St. Paul;

f. 50v, St. James;

f. 51v, St. Stephen (9-lines);

f. 52, St. Lawrence;

f. 52v, St. Felix, St. Fortunat and St. Achileo of Valence;

f. 53, St. Annemund, archbishop of Lyon;

f. 54, St. Nicholas;

f. 54v, St. Claude;

f. 55, St. Anthony;

f. 55v, St. Francis of Assisi receiving the stigmata;

f. 56, St. Dominic;

f. 56v, St. Anne teaching the Virgin to read;

f. 56v, St. Mary Magdalene;

f. 57, St. Catherine;

f. 57v, St. Margaret;

f. 58, St. Barbara;

f. 58v, St. Apollonia;

f. 59, Virgin and Child.

Additions in the eighteenth century for Michel de la Cour D’Amonville:

f. 1, framed title page in Gold capitals, “Orationes devotissimae Christo dicatae Virginique Deiparae,” with a cross below;

f. 59v, “Finis,” followed by the engraved coat of arms and name, Michel de la Cour d’Amonville.

Lyon was an important artistic center around 1500. This was largely due to the frequent presence of the royal court in the city, which was favored for its strategic geographic position during the Italian wars. Tania Lévy mentions seventeen illuminators recorded in Lyon around 1500, which is not an insignificant number (Lévy, 2017, p. 23). This manuscript contributes to our growing knowledge of manuscript painting in Lyon, which remains significantly less well known than that of the other main French artistic centers, Paris and Tours. 

The most important book for private, lay devotion in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance was certainly the Book of Hours, which circulated widely in manuscript and print.  Here we have an example of a less common book for private devotion, a Prayer Book, offering its owner a series of prayers to turn to for comfort and spiritual nourishment.  Although it is possible this was once part of a larger codex, a Book of Hours, its contents are carefully organized and, with the prefatory calendar, function independently.  It begins with prayers to Christ (ff. 8-25v) and the Virgin Mary (ff. 25v-45), together with a Mass of the Virgin Mary (ff. 45v-46v), and concluding with an extensive series of Suffrages (special prayers) of the Trinity, God the Father, Christ, Holy Spirit, Holy Face and many saints (ff. 47-59v). Many of the numerous Suffrages included here are illustrated, suggesting that these prayers were of special importance to the owner of the volume.


Avril, F. and Reynaud, N. Les manuscrits à peintures en France: 1440-1520, Paris, 1993.

Burin, E. Manuscript Illumination in Lyons, 1473-1530, Turnhout, 2001.

Chevalier, U. Repertorium hymnologicum: catalogue des chants, hymnes, proses, séquences, tropes en usage dans l’église latine depuis les origines jusqu’à nos jours, 6 vols, Louvain, Brussels, 1892-1921.

Hammerling, R. A History of Prayer: The First to the Fifteenth Century, Leiden and Boston, 2008.

Leroquais, V. Les livres d'heures manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Nationale, 3 vols, Paris, 1927.

Lévy, T. Les peintres de Lyon autour de 1500, Rennes, 2017.

Pettigrew, Thomas J.  Bibliotheca Sussexiana: A Descriptive Catalogue: Accompanied by Historical and Biographical Notices of the Manuscripts and Printed Books Contained in the Library of ... the Duke of Sussex ... in Kensington Palace, vol. 1, part 1, London, 1827.

Plummer, J. The Last Flowering: French Painting in Manuscripts, 1420-1530 from American Collections, New York, 1982.

Reinburg, V. French Books of Hours: Making an Archive of Prayer, c. 1400-1600, Cambridge, 2012.

Online Resources

Chevalier, U. Repertorium hymnologicum: catalogue des chants, hymnes, proses, séquences, tropes en usage dans l’église latine depuis les origines jusqu’à nos jours, vol. 1, Louvain, 1892

Peter Kidd, Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773–1843)

TM 1018