i + 96 + i folios on parchment, in-8 format, complete (collation a-m8), signatures printed in black on first folio of each gathering and on up to the fourth folio, omitted in places (justification with marginal scenes c. 151 x 91 mm.; text block only c. 163 x 93 mm.), printed in black in a Gothic bâtarde type in a single column of up to 33 lines to a page, one- to two-line capitals and line fillers in white and liquid gold on red and blue grounds, pages outlined in red, TWENTY LARGE METALCUTS, FIFTY-ONE SMALL WOOD AND METALCUTS, with many figural borders, a few folios cockled or stained, the Zodiac Man’s genitals scratched out, first and last folios with the printers devices, and f. f2v with some abrasions, but otherwise in good condition. Bound in nineteenth-century brown morocco, spine with four raised bands, front and back boards with blind tooling and inset with two embossed brown leather panels from a 16th-century binding (each 111 x 73 mm.), at front with Saint Gertrude under a Renaissance-style portico, embossed “SUM BIBLIOTHECÆ COENOBII DIVA GERTRUDIS APUD LOVANIENSES / S. GERT,” the rear panel embossed with similar portico over the arms of abbot Philippe de Hosdin set on a crosier with initials “PH,” motto “INTER SPINAS CALCEATUS,” and date “1557” (this binding published in L. Gruel, Manuel historique et bibliographique de l’amateur de reliures, Paris, 1887, p. 150, pl. B), with gilt edges, in good condition. Dimensions 190 x 125 mm.
This Book of Hours on parchment is the among the very first examples printed by Thielman Kerver for Guillaume Eustace. The unrecorded and unidentified initials “S.M.A.” appear in the borders below eight of the large metalcuts. Around fifty years after it was printed it belonged to the Augustinian abbey of Saint Gertrude in Leuven, where it was bound. Two leather panels with the initials, arms, and motto of abbot Philippe de Hosdin (fl. 1553-1569) from this early binding are retained in the present binding, constructed by Léon Gruel in Paris and published by him in 1887.
1. Printed in Paris on November 14 [1497/1498] by Thielman Kerver (d. c. 1524/5) for Guillaume Eustace (d. 1538), as recorded in the colophon on f. m8v. Guillaume Eustace’s shop was located at the grand hall of the Palace of Justice (Conciergerie), near the Sainte-Chapelle, at the sign of Saint John the Evangelist. This shop was among those centered around what was a “new street,” the rue Neuve Notre-Dame, constructed after the collapse of the Pont Notre-Dame in 1499 and that served as the center of the commercial book trade from its beginnings through the appearance of print.
2. Belonged to the Abbey library of Saint Gertrude, Leuven, in the sixteenth century, where the volume was bound; the embossed leather panels dated “1557” with initials and arms of Philippe de Hosdin, abbot 1553-1569, set into cover of the present nineteenth-century binding.
3. Gruel and Engelmann, Paris, with their late nineteenth-century bookplate (published by L. Gruel in 1887 and almost certainly re-bound by his studio).
4. Richard de Lomenie, Paris; his late nineteenth- or early-twentieth-century bookplate with arms and motto “Je maintiendray,” with pasted-in circular label stamped “53.”
5. Unidentified collection, early-twentieth-century(?) circular red stamp with four spirals and with number “585” inscribed in ink.
f. a1, Title-page, with device of Thielman Kerver, “Hore intemerate virginis marie secu(n)dum / usum Romanu(m) totaliter et longu(m) sine req(uire)re; / cum pluribus oratio(n)ibus in gallico et latino”;
f. a1v, Almanac for 1497-1520;
f. a2, Zodiac Man with brief explanations of the effects of the heavens on bodily humors;
ff. a2v-a5, Calendar in French for Paris use, with the feast for the translation of Saint Fermin and the octave of Epiphany noted with a gold letter ‘O’ on a red dot for January 13;
ff. a5v-a6, [Prayer to the Virgin Mary], Oraison a la vierge marie de lacteur de ces presen/tes heures, incipit, “Princesse de hault parage glorieus … presenter ma requeste faicte et dictee en ceste / maniere”;
ff. a6-a7, [Prayers to Christ], incipit, “Tresuaillant victorieux triu(m)phateur / et dissipateur … et inablement la gloire / eternelle. Amen”; concluding on f. a7, with prayer, “O benignissime domine”;
ff. a7v-b4v, Gospels Sequences;
ff. b5-e5, Hours of the Virgin;
ff. e5v-e6v, Hours of the Cross;
ff. e7-f2, Hours of the Holy Spirit;
ff. f2v-g3, Seven Penitential Psalms, Litany, and Prayers;
ff. g3v-h8v, Office of the Dead;
ff. i1-k6v, Suffrages of Saint Michael, Saint John the Baptist, Saint John the Evangelist, Saints Peter and Paul, Saint James, Saint Stephen, Saint Lawrence, Saint Christopher, Saint Sebastian, Saint Dionysius, Saint Nicholas, Saint Claudio, Saint Anthony, Saint Francis, Saint Anna, Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Saint Margaret, Saint Barbara, and Saint Apollonia;
ff. k6v-l4, Miscellaneous prayers in French, before the Cross, when sick, when traveling, etc., with Petitions of Saint Gregory in French and Latin, incipit, “Nous trouvons es sainctes escriptures que nostre be/noist saulneur et redempteur…;”
ff. l4-l6, Short Office of Our Lady of Mercy in French;
ff. l6-m2v, Seven Penitential Psalms in French;
ff. m2v-m7, Miscellaneous prayers in French, ending with a prayer to Saint Roch;
ff. m7v-8, Table of Contents;
f. m8v, Colophon, with device of Guillaume Eustace, “Ces p(re)sentes heures a lusaige de Rome fu/rent achevees le xiiii iour de Novembre. Par / Thielma(n) kerver pour Guillaume eustace te/na(n)t sa boutique dede(n)s la gra(n)t salle du palais / du coste de la chapelle de messeigneurs les pre/side(n)s ou sur les grans degrez du coste de la co(n)/ciergerie a lymage sainct iehan levangeliste.”
The same colophon is recorded in a printed Book of Hours on parchment by Brunet (1864, vol. 5, no. 282), however, Brunet records this example as quarto format with 32 lines per page, while the present example is octavo format with up to 33 lines.
The prayer to the Virgin Mary with rubric Oraison a la vierge marie de lacteur de ces presentes heures (ff. a5v-a6) also appears in the Grandes Heures printed by Antoine Verard in 1488 (Brunet, 1864, vol. 5, no. 118). Along with its other unusual features (see illustrations below), this present printed Book of Hours appears to be an unstudied early intermediary, the first Kerver produced for Guillaume Eustace but with elements found in Books of Hours printed in the circle of Verard (active 1485-1512).
Twenty large metalcuts after designs by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne of Brittany:
f. a1, Title-page with Thielman Kerver’s unicorn device;
f. a2, Zodiac Man;
f. a7v, Martyrdom of Saint John the Evangelist;
f. b1v, Betrayal of Christ (with S.M.A. initials in lower border);
f. b4v, Annunciation;
f. b8v, Visitation;
f. c4v, Nativity (with S.M.A. initials in lower border);
f. c6v, Annunciation to the Shepherds;
f. c8v, Adoration of the Magi (with S.M.A. initials in lower border);
f. d2, Presentation in the Temple (with S.M.A. initials in lower border);
f. d3v, Flight into Egypt;
f. d6, Coronation of the Virgin (with S.M.A. initials in lower border);
f. e5v, Crucifixion;
f. e7, Pentecost;
f. f2v, David and Bathsheba;
f. g3v, Death overtaking a Nobleman, with Job on the Dungheap (with S.M.A. initials in lower border);
f. i1, The Trinity (with S.M.A. initials in lower border);
f. k8v, Christ as Man of Sorrows (with S.M.A. initials in lower border);
f. m5v, Adoration of the Magi;
f. m8v, Colophon with device of Guillaume Eustace.
Fifty-one small wood and metalcuts after designs by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne of Brittany, 7 lines, unless otherwise noted:
ff. a5v-a6, Virgin and Child; Christ with orb and cross (8 lines);
f. a8, Saint Luke;
ff. a8v-b1, Saint Matthew; Saint Mark;
f. b2, Christ before Pilate;
ff. b2v-b3, Christ on the Scourge Column, Christ with the Crown of Thorns; Christ Carrying the Cross;
ff. b3v-b4, Christ Nailed to the Cross; Christ on the Cross with Saints Mary and John, Descent from the Cross;
f. b4v, Virgin and Child;
f. e8v, Saint Anne;
ff. f1v-f2, Virgin and Child; Christ with orb and cross (8 lines);
ff. i1v-i2, Christ with orb and cross (8 lines), Christ at the Tomb (8 lines); The Pentecost (8 lines), Christ on the Cross with Saints Mary and John (8 lines);
f. i2v, Saint Veronica’s Veil;
f. i4, Virgin and Child;
f. i6, Christ on the Cross with Saints Mary and John (8 lines);
f. i7v, Virgin and Child;
ff. k1v-k2, Saint Michael, Saint John the Baptist, Saint John the Evangelist; Saints Peter and Paul, Saint James the Greater;
ff. k2v-k2, Saint Stephen, Saint Lawrence, Saint Christopher; Saint Sebastian;
ff. k3v-k4, Saint Nicholas; Saint Claudio, Saint Anthony;
ff. k4v-k5, Saint Francis (8 lines), Saint Anne, Saint Mary Magdalene; Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Saint Margaret, Saint Barbara;
f. k5v, Saint Apollonia;
f. l1, Christ with orb and cross (8 lines);
ff. l1v-l2, Christ at the Tomb; Pentecost;
f. I3, Christ with orb and cross (8 lines);
ff. l3v-l4, Christ at the Tomb; The Lamentation;
f. l6v, David and Bathsheba (10 lines);
f. m7, Saint Roch (5 lines).
All the large metalcuts include borders with historiated lower margins, with the exception of the Martyrdom of Saint John the Evangelist (f. a7v). These borders comprise a small wood or metalcut (most often Saint Roch) and a wider rectangular metalcut. The wider of the these two usually depicts counterfacing groups of people: two groups of monks, a bishop with cardinals, two groups of nuns, two groups of men, two kings with entourage, or two bishops with entourage. Two other border scenes appear, the first below the large metalcut of the Pentecost with a group of kneeling animals surrounding a unicorn, and the second below the large metalcut of David and Bathsheba with Eve emerging from Adam’s rib.
The initials “S.M.A.” in the borders below the large metalcuts are unrecorded. Printers in Paris sometimes added their initials to borders, as did George Wolff, who produced a Roman typeface for Thielman Kerver in 1497 (Claudin, 1901, pp. 95-104). It is possible that these initials belong to an artist or block cutter. One can speculate that “S.M.A.” is perhaps an abbreviation for “Saint Michel Archange” and alludes to the site of Thielman Kerver’s shop, which in 1497 was located on the Pont Saint-Michel under the sign of the unicorn (see Claudin, 1901, p. 278), with the unicorn also appearing in Kerver’s device. The initials might also stand for a short prayer or invocation to a saint. Extra space is created between the borders and text block by including this tiny additional block with these three initials, or the block with three stars and a crescent in its place on other folios (this sometimes inverted, with crescent up or down). Yet to be explained, this unusual and highly refined example opens new questions about the collaborations and design processes among the first printers of illustrated Books of Hours in Paris.
The illustrations are after designs by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne of Brittany. This example is among the first to feature a metalcut with a “new and iconographically unusual” image of the Trinity (Nettekoven, 2004, p. 92), depicting Christ with a three-fold face and an emblem (f. i1). The Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne of Brittany (named after one of his manuscripts, Paris, BnF, MS n.a.l. 3120, and possibly identified as Jean d’Ypres, fl. in Paris, c. 1480-1510), is also known as the Master of the Apocalypse Rose for his designs made for the rose window of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, commissioned by King Charles VIII (r. 1483-1498). Occasionally, the artist is also referred to as the Master of the Hunt of the Unicorn after his designs for the famous suite of tapestries at The Cloisters in New York. The Master of the Très Petites Heures played an important role in the production of printed Books of Hours, which flourished during the last quarter of the fifteenth century. He supplied many series of woodcuts to illustrate numerous editions, designs that are also found in manuscripts he painted. Typically his figures are rather stocky and carefully framed within complex Gothic architectural elements. The Master might have been the eldest son of the Master of Coëtivy, a certain Jean d’Ypres, registered in Paris as a maître-juré (on the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne of Brittany and his designs for metalcuts, see Avril and Reynaud, 1993, no. 147, pp. 268-270, and Nettekoven, 2004).
The late-nineteenth-century binding, with two embossed panels, is a significant piece of bookbinding history. Made for the Augustinian abbey of Saint Gertrude in Leuven, the rear panel dated 1557 displays the arms of abbot Philippe de Hosdin over a crosier with initials and motto “INTER SPINAS CALCEATUS” (Sandals among thorns). The front panel is embossed with an image of Saint Gertrude of Nivelles, showing a mouse or rat at her feet with another climbing her crosier, stemming from her popularity as a protector against rats and mice during the Black Plague. The panel with Gertrude was published in 1887, in its current binding, by the famous Parisian bookbinder Léon Gruel in his Manuel historique et bibliographique de l’amateur de reliures. It is remarkable that Gruel used this panel as his prime example of the decorated medieval bookcover in what is one of the first popular illustrated histories of book binding. It was published again in 1896 where the panel with Gertrude is again illustrated, now in linework (later reprinted in 1906). Although the binding is not signed, the panels were almost certainly conserved and set into the current binding by Gruel's studio. After his publications the panels appear in later studies of regional book binding practices, including by Paul Högberg in 1927.
Avril, F. and N. Reynaud. Les manuscrits à peintures en France, 1440-1520, Paris, 1993, pp. 268-270.
Brunet, J.-C. Manuel du libraire et de l’amateur de livres, vol. 5, Paris, 1864 (no. 282, col. 1644).
Claudin, A. Histoire de l’imprimerie en France au XVe et au XVIe siècle, vol. 2, Paris, 1901 (pp. 277-279 for a similar colophon).
Gruel, L. Manuel historique et bibliographique de l’amateur de reliures, Paris, 1887, p. 150, pl. B.
Gruel, L. Conférences sur la relieure et la dorure des livres, Paris, 1896, pp. 29-31 (ill. p. 30), reprinted 1906.
Högberg, P. “Reliures belges a l’université d’Upsal: Une reliure de Plantin,” De Gulden Passer 5 (1927): 1-9, at p. 6.
Nettekoven, I. Der Meister des Apokalypsenrose der Sainte Chapelle und die Pariser Buchkunst um 1500, Turnhout, 2004, esp. pp. 91-94 (figs. 177-180, 182-194).
Renouard, P. Répertoire des imprimeurs parisiens, Paris, 1965 (device of Guillaume Eustace cat. no. 308; device of Thielman Kerver cat. no. 499).
Tenschert, H., and I. Nettekoven, Horae B.M.V.: 158 Stundenbuchdruke der Sammlung Bibermühle, vol. I, Schaffhausen, 2003 (see esp. pp. 122-28 for the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne of Brittany).
Zöhl, C., Jean Pichore: Buchmaler, Graphiker und Verleger in Paris um 1500, Turnhout, 2004.
L. Gruel, Manuel historique et bibliographique de l’amateur de reliures, Paris, 1887