12mo-size (136 x 71 mm). 51,  leaves, entirely engraved, on both rectos and versos, 52 of the 53 leaves each with an engraved vignette on the recto, 5 with additional vignettes on versos or at foot of recto, the rest filled with text, ornamental page borders throughout, Pasquier’s imprint at foot of every recto and continuing onto most versos. Plate 19 underinked (faintly printed). A stub following leaf 51, a couple of imprints and several foliation numbers cropped, light dampstain to a few leaves. Contemporary calf, smooth spine gold-tooled and lettered “Figure[s] de Pieté,” gilt edges, marbled endpapers (rubbed). Provenance: contemporary ms. notes to fol. 3, several inscriptions on front flyleaf (one rubbed out and another crossed out in ink); presentation inscriptions on front and rear flyleaves to Jean Louis Madé, student of the Jesuit collège (petit seminaire) of Agens, from one of his teachers (Degaud?), dated 27 July 1840 ***
An unusual collection of small engraved prayer sheets or cards published by the engraver and print publisher J. J. Pasquier. Each leaf is illustrated with a different devotional engraving and an instructional text or prayer. On the rectos a title (with a few exceptions) and an illustration, often in medallion format and often with a decorative border, precede the texts, in a variety of different scripts. Subjects include prayers to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, to one’s guardian angel, to St. Denis, patron saint of France, and St. Genevieve, patron saint of Paris, the prayer “Pater de la Jardinière,” and prayers for various occasions: before study, before the Sacrament, to ward off lightning, etc.; devotional exercises, including the acts of contrition, of faith and hope; instructions for saying the rosary and for obtaining various types of indulgences, and other brief devotional instructions. A few sheets contain dates in the mid-1780s. The two final unfoliated leaves differ from the rest: the penultimate leaf, the only one that is unillustrated, contains a “Prière pour attirer la Bénédiction du Ciel sur l’Assemblée Nationale,” published in the summer of 1789: that body was seated only from June 17 to July 9 1789, after which it was renamed the Assemblée Legislative. The final leaf contains a portrait of the deceased mendicant priest Benoit Joseph Labre (1746-1783), with his life dates; the text is headed “Maximes sur la vie pauvre et cachée.” Labre became the object of a quasi-cult in France on the eve of the Revolution, and popular images of him proliferated to such an extent that they were said to have numbered over 150,000, few of which have survived.
The illustrations are designed to appeal through their sheer variety, of shape, subject presentation, and ornamentation. Rather than by Pasquier himself, they may have been produced by various engravers who worked for his shop. Similar in function to traditional prayer cards, but in a slightly larger format, these small agenda-format leaves were apparently usually sold one by one, no doubt by colporteurs, as inexpensive memory aids or supports for private devotion. Most have long since disappeared. Those that are preserved tend to be found within the covers of devotional albums or commonplace books. For example, a late 18th-century devotional manuscript from the south of France which passed through our hands, now Johns Hopkins MSB 186, illustrated with numerous small engravings, includes six prints from the present series (nos. 8: Dévotions du Rosaire, 9: Obligations pour gagner des Indulgences, 15: Le Pater de la Jardinière, 19: La Couronne de St. Joseph, 21: Moyens pour arriver à une grande perfection, and , the unnumbered Labre memorial print). In the Johns Hopkins manuscript, these engravings were cut out around the borders, thus eliminating their imprints, inset, and illuminated.
Collected volumes such as this one, clearly sold as such since the prints have added engraved numbering, may have been marketed to the Jesuit colleges which made up a large part of the clientele of Laurent Cars, in whose shop Pasquier had worked. The present volume, still in its simple contemporary calf binding, was later given to a seminarian by a cleric-professor of his collège, in Agen, in southwestern France. I locate no other copies of this collection. The Bibliothèque nationale de France holds two “recueils” of prints by Pasquier, but the BnF online catalogue does not list their contents.
Cf. Thieme-Becker 25:274 (“Pasquier, Jean Jacques”); cf. V. Meyer and C. Noûs, “Laurent Cars, un graveur-éditeur entrepreneur sous Louis XV,” Dix-huitième siècle, vol. 52, no. 1 (2020) 355-378. Item #4105