Printed on paper. 4to in 8s (249 x 167 mm ). Collation: A-E8 F2 G6 H-N8 O6.  leaves. Batarde type 98, 29/31 lines. Title in four lines below large metalcut Vostre device (Renouard 1105), within a metalcut border; Anatomical man metalcut within an architectural border; 26 large metalcuts of which 14 full-page, 33 small text cuts, all except the full-page cuts set within a variety of metalcut borders assembled from individual cuts, and composing several historiated series (see below), most incorporating letterpress text. Rubricated, initials and paragraph marks supplied (in places rather hastily) in red and blue; a few small ink splashes from the rubrication. Ruled in red. Bound with three additional leaves containing six pages of contemporary manuscript prayers at end.
Binding: 19th-century red goatskin decorated in sixteenth-century style, outer frames of black and tan inlaid calf framing large inlaid black calf interlacing bands with leafy sprigs of inlaid tan calf, all inlays outlined in gold tooling, gold-lettered title (erroneously making two words of christifere) on front cover and imprint on lower cover, spine in seven similarly decorated compartments, olive morocco doublures gold-tooled with allover design of interlacing circles, fleurs-de-lis, and blossoms, thick marbled endpapers and flyleaves, gilt edges, by Capé, with his gold-stamped signature on upper turn-in; modern linen folding case.
Condition: one or two tiny tears or very discreet repairs in lower blank margins; lightly washed, with very occasional faint residual staining; discreet restoration to joints.
Provenance: 1) Marielaine du Varny, of Rosny, near Mantes, Seine-et-Oise: six pages of manuscript prayers in a contemporary batarde cursive hand, in French with some Latin, signed at end, promising a reward of wine and food for anyone who finds the book: “Iste hore sunt mei qui vocet Marielaine du Varny si quis inveniet pro amore Xri redet et habebit bonum vinum ... cum pane albo cum caseo duro in pago Rony” (These Hours are mine, my name is Marielaine du Varny; should anyone find them for the love of Christ let him return them and he will have good wine ... white bread, and hard cheese in the village of Rony”). 2) effaced 17th or 18th-century signature on title, Lagarde(?). 3) French trade: 19th-century French clipped description from an unidentified auction or bookseller’s catalogue, item no 7, tipped to second (of 3) front flyleaves, trace of another tipped-in description, since lost, retaining only the item number 35. 4) Robert Hoe (1893-1909), bookplate, sale Part IV, Anderson Galleries, NY, 11 November 1912, lot 1683. 5) Cortlandt F. Bishop (1870-1935), bookplate, sale, Part I, 25 April 1938, lot 1037. 6) Mary S. Collins (1864-1948), bookplate.***
A fine, large, red-ruled copy of the most lavishly illustrated of Simon Vostre’s quarto editions, called the “grandes heures” as much for the richness of their illustrative material as for their format. Vostre’s complete new series of 14 very large full-page woodcuts, attributed to the workshop of Jean Pichore, first appeared in this edition; only three had appeared previously. This copy is bound with six pages of contemporary manuscript prayers and devout meditations by a woman, preserved by the binder Capé when the copy was luxuriously rebound in the 19th century in a retrospective style.
The present book of hours represents a high point of printed Paris Horae, for the abundance and intricacy of the graphic material, to which the text plays a decidedly secondary role. The Paris printers’ mastery of the complex composition and printing of multiple editions of texts integrated with hundreds of separate metalcuts testifies to the sophistication and large production scale of what had become, within little more than a decade, a highly successful specialized branch of the book trade. Simon Vostre, who, with Antoine Vérard, had pioneered the industry of Paris Horae publishing, had commissioned several cycles of illustrations and border cuts starting in the 1490s. Vostre was the first publisher of books of hours to commission full-page metalcuts for large quarto editions. Quickly imitated by Vostre’s competitors, these large cuts, formerly attributed to Jean Perréal, are now ascribed to the workshop of the illuminator / imagier / printer Jean Pichore, who supplied metalcuts to all the major Paris Horae publishers for over two decades.
Of the series of fourteen full-page metalcuts, three (the Annunciation, Nativity, and Adoration of the Magi) seem to have first appeared in a quarto edition printed in 1502 by Philippe Pigouchet for Simon Vostre (cf. Fairfax Murray 257; the Bibermühle catalogue ascribes the first appearance to an edition of 1504 for Jean Pichore and Remy de Laistre: cf. Sammlung Bibermühle 92). The remaining eleven large metalcuts first appeared in this edition and other Horae with calendars for 1508-1528 published by Vostre (for the use of Paris, Chartres, Amiens, and other editions for the use of Rome). Hugh Davies assessed thus these innovative metalcuts, which, following Anatole Alès, he labeled series 4: “Introduced here are all forms of shading – criblée, cross, line, etc., the use of all these methods giving an appearance of solidity to the pictures which was never before attained. With all the artist’s love for Renaissance ornament ... he has sufficient of the XVth Cent. conventionalism to preserve the naïveté and lightness of the earlier French style so soon to disappear under the more weighty German” (Fairfax Murray French, p. 280).
Nine of the fourteen large cuts appear in lavish double-page displays opposite smaller metalcuts, set within architectural borders to bring them to the same size. The subjects relate thematically; in one case the cuts show two artists’ views of the same subject, the Annunciation to the Shepherds. Most of these smaller cuts are from an earlier octavo-format series cut by Jean Pichore’s workshop for Vostre, first used in 1502-1506. The oldest metalcuts used in the double-page spreads are the Tree of Jesse, the Adoration of the Shepherds, and the Trinity. Along with the anatomical man, the 33 small text cuts, and some of the border pieces, they date from the 15th century and are attributed to or in the style of the so-called Master of the Apocalypse Rose.
As important as the larger illustrations in the presentation and reception of early 16th-century Parisian printed Horae were the metalcut page borders, which completed the visual feast offered by the book of hours. They diverted the reader with entertaining stories and an enchanting patchwork of pictures, while amplifying the main devotional text with their edifying tales and reminders of mortality. Sixteen different series are used here, including the celebrated Dance of Death with its pungent French verse text, the Last Judgment series (inspired by Dürer), the Triumphs of Caesar, the Lives of the Virgin and Jesus (sometimes described as the Typology series, modelled on the Biblia pauperum), the Miracles of Notre Dame, Susanna and the Elders, the Sibyls, Joseph and his Brothers, the Triumph of the Virtues over the Vices, and scenes of games and seasonal activities. The historiated borderpieces alternate with purely ornamental border strips embellished with putti, arabesques, grotesques, and foliate ornament. Originally imitative of the manuscript tradition, such widely copied border series took on a life of their own. Their importance in the eyes of the publisher and public is evident from the fact that they are mentioned in the title. The metalcuts and border strips that compose them include both older, stylistically archaic material in the style of the Master of the Apocalypse Rose, and more modern Italianate ornament cuts along with German-influenced figural cuts by the Pichore workshop.
A1r title, A1v almanac for 1508-1528, A2r Zodiac and rules for bloodletting, A2v-A8r calendar, the calendar for each month accompanied by two quatrains, the first in Latin concerning the health-related properties of the month, and the second in French on the ages of man (each month representing six years); B1r-B2v Gospel Lessons; B3r-C4r prayers: Obsecro te, O Intemerata, Stabat mater, etc.; C4v Hours of the Virgin, alternating with corresponding Hours of the Cross and of the Holy Ghost: (C4v Tree of Jesse), C5r Matins, D3v Laudes, D8v, Matins (Hours of the Cross), E1r Matins (Hours of the Holy Ghost), E3v Prime, E4v Prime (Cross), E5r Prime (Holy Ghost), E5v Terce, E7v Terce (Cross), E8r Terce (Holy Ghost), E8v Sext, G1v None, G3r None (Cross and Holy Ghost), G3v Vespers, H1r Vespers (Cross and Holy Ghost), H1v Compline, H3v Compline (Cross), H4r Compline (Holy Ghost); H5r Rules for Advent, H8v Penitential Psalms; I5r Litany; K1r Office of the Dead; L8r Suffrages; M6v various prayers in French and Latin (plusieurs devotes louenges...); N4v Seven penitential psalms in French and Latin; O3v Horloge de la passion (French poem); O5v prayer to the three kings (Latin); O6r-v Table of contents.
A2r anatomical man as skeleton, surrounded by figures representing the four temperaments, within an architectural border
A8v St. John the Evangelist with the Poisoned Cup, full-page
B3v Betrayal, full-page
C4v Tree of Jesse, within architectural border
C5r Annunciation, full-page
D3v Augustus and the Tiburtine Sybil, within architectural border
D4r Visitation, full-page
D8v The Road to Calvary, within architectural border
E1r Crucifixion, full-page
E2r Pentecost, full-page
E3r Nativity, full-page
E5v Annunciation to the Shepherds, within architectural border
E6r Annunciation to the Shepherds, full-page
E8v Adoration of the Shepherds, a criblé metalcut with two engraved captions, within architectural border
F1r Adoration of the Magi, full-page
G1v Presentation in the Temple, full-page
G3v Massacre of the Innocents, within architectural border
G4r Flight into Egypt, full-page
H1v Death of the Virgin, within architectural border
H2r Coronation of the Virgin, full-page
H8v David and Uriah, within architectural border
I1r David playing the Harp, full-page
I8v Raising of Lazarus, full-page
K1r Job on the Dung Heap, within architectural border
L8r Trinity and the Church, within architectural border
N2r St. Anne with the Madonna and Child (Anna Selbdritt) and emblems of the Virgin, within architectural border
O3v Holy Grail (half-page criblé cut, within border)
The manuscript prayers following the printed text, by one Marielaine du Varny, are in three sections, the first and longest containing prayers to the Virgin, addressed in a variety of manners: Glorieuse Vierge Marie, Noble Mere du Redempteur, Glorieuse Vierge puella fille de dieu, etc.; the prayers of the second section are to Jesus (Jesus ... roi, filz de dieu le pere... ), and those of the final section to God (Sire Dieu tout puissant....). The promise of a gastronomical reward to anyone who should find the book was a not uncommon message by medieval book owners.
The copy was later owned by three distinguished American collectors. Its excellent condition, large size, and “fine and crisp impressions” were lavishly praised in the Hoe and Cortlandt Bishop sale catalogues (at that time the binding retained its morocco slipcase, since lost). Mary S. Collins, née Mary F. Schell, married the Philadelphia publisher Philip Sheridan Collins following the death of his wife and her closest friend Anna Steffen. Together they assembled an important collection of medieval manuscripts and early printed books. Some were donated; others were sold by her estate.
Four other copies located (all apparently printed on paper): Johns Hopkins University, Harvard, Rennes Bibliothèque municipale, and Sammlung Bibermühle.
Bohatta 881; Alès, Bibliothèque liturgique ... de Charles-Louis de Bourbon, Supplément (1884), no. 358 (and cf. table, p. 43 of Supp.); R. Brun, Le livre français illustré de la Renaissance, pp. 14-16; Tenschert, ed., Horae B.M.V.: 365 gedruckte Stundenbücher aus der Sammlung Bibermühle, vols. I-IX (2003-2014), no. 95; on the illustrations, see also II: pp. 736-8 and IX, series 15, 22 & 24; Harvard/ Mortimer French II, p. 368, Horae no. 1; Peignot, Recherches historiques et littéraires sur les danses des morts (1826), pp. 149-163. Cf. Fairfax Murray French 259. Item #2971