?Noël de Fribois (d.1467-8), MIROIR HISTORIAL ABRÉGÉ DE FRANCE of Anthony of Burgundy, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1490]
An uncommon compilation of French history with miniatures by the Master of the Chronique scandaleuse, a favoured illuminator of the Queen Anne of Brittany, historiated initials of the Kings of France and the arms, badge and motto of the Grand Bâtard; the original metal attachments of the binding, with a clasp shaped as his badge of the barbican, are rare survivors.
(1) ANTHONY OF BURGUNDY (1428/9-1504): coat of arms with fleur de lys crest, knotted letters N and E and a and c, motto NUL NE SI FROTE on f.1; coat of arms ff.4v, 55, 84v, 117; motto ff.84v, 117; his autograph ex libris nul ne si frote/ob.de.bourgne, f.132v; clasp shaped as his badge (cf the binding attachments of the ‘Breslau’ Froissart). The fleur de lys replaced the eagle-owl as his crest c.1481; elsewhere the N and E are tied either side of an I or Y; the a and c, interspersed with columbines and pansies (for melancholy and thoughts) are not otherwise recorded (van den Bergen-Pantens, 1993). (2) His grandson ADOLF OF BURGUNDY, LORD OF VEERE and Admiral of Flanders (1489-1540): his echoing autograph ex libris A/nul ne laproche/de bourgne, f.132v, as found in eighteen of Anthony’s manuscripts. (3) PIERRE CANDT, LORD OF BROUCKERQUE (d.1544), councillor of Charles V and, from 1536, lieutenant-general and vice-admiral of Flanders for Adolf and then Adolf’s son, Maximilian of Burgundy (1514-1558): Je suis au Sgr de Brouckerke a Malines, on front endleaf; presumably a gift from Adolf or Maximilian. (4) ALEXANDRE ETIENNE GOHIER, 1790. (5) JEAN-BAPTISTE JOSEPH BARROIS (1784-1855). (6) BERTRAM, 4TH EARL OF ASHBURNHAM (1797-1878), acquired in 1849. (7) BERTRAM, 5TH EARL OF ASHBURNHAM (1840-1913); Ashburnham Sale, Sotheby’s 10-14 June 1901, lot 405, to Quaritch. (8) ROBERT HOE (1839-1909): his sale, Anderson Auction Company, New York, 1 May 1911, no 2154, to Belin. (9) MAURICE BURRUS, no 140. Purchased from Lauria, Paris, in 1939.
Le miroir historial abrégé de France in the first recension dedicated to Charles VII ff.1-130v; list of Kings of France to Charles VII (d.1461) ff.131-132v.
Drawing principally on the 13th-century Speculum historiale of Vincent of Beauvais, the author, probably Noël de Fribois, presents narratives and interpretations in Latin, followed by French translations or summaries, of the history of France from its foundation by fleeing Trojans to the reign of Charles V. The four other manuscripts known, and Charles of Maine’s presentation copy uniquely preserving the second recension, are all in public collections (K. Daly ed., Abrégé des chroniques de France par Noël de Fribois, 2006, pp.30-36).
The miniatures and the initial on f.117v, with their assured brushwork and detailing in liquid gold, are by the Master of the Chronique scandaleuse, named from BnF ms Clair. 481. His career in Paris, working for the King and Queen among others, can be charted 1493-1508; a date c.1490 is indicated for the Miroir by the fashionable silhouette of the banqueting lady, f.55. The initials are probably by an artist of an earlier generation, with those on the bifolio ff.128/129 by a distinct hand. Of the three illustrated manuscripts of the Miroir, Anthony’s has the fullest cycle of illustrations, possibly reflecting Charles VII’s lost presentation copy (K. Daly in Gesta, 44, 2005, pp. 103-124). The text’s very limited circulation, in royal circles, the change to the NIE monogram and the largely Latin text might indicate that the book was commissioned as a gift, perhaps by Charles VIII.
The subjects of the large miniatures are as follows: King of France and an angel flanking a lily f.1; King of France and other kings before the Emperor f.4v; Mahomet unconscious beside feasting men and women f.55 (large initial f.55v); Pepin’s tomb surveyed by Charlemagne f.84v; Hugh Capet anointed King f.117.
The subjects of the historiated initials are as follows: Antenor f.5; marriage of Clovis I and Clothilda f. 14v; Clovis or one of his sons f.27; the dead Clothaire I f.40v; assassination of Chilperic f.47v; Dagobert I f.58v; Clovis II f.60; Emperor Constantine IV f.66; Childebert III f.69v; Dagobert III f.71v; Chilperic II f.74; Pepin f.74; Louis I f.104; Charles II f.107v; Louis II as prince with Ansgarde of Burgundy f.109; Carloman II with ?the Viking Hasting f.110v; Louis II as King f.113; Charles III f.113v; Louis IV f.115v; Lothaire f.115v; Robert II f.117v; Henry I f.118; Philip I with Bertrade de Montfort f.123; Louis VI greeting Pope Innocent II f.124; Louis VII f.125; Philip II Augustus f.126; Louis VIII f.126v; St Louis IX f.127; Philip III f.127v; Philip IV f.127v; Louis X f.128; Phliip V f.128; Charles IV f.128; Philip VI f.128v; John II f.129v; Charles V f.129v.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION AND CONDITION:
304 x 230 mm. 132 leaves, COMPLETE, 33 lines, ruled space: 199 x 137. Illuminated initials throughout, THIRTY-SIX HISTORIATED INITIALS OF THE KINGS OF FRANCE, FIVE LARGE MINIATURES WITHIN FULL BORDERS (slight wear to miniature f.1, some cockling, slight worming to first and last leaves just affecting border of f.1, a few marginal annotations). Original metal attachments: five bosses and two corner pieces to each cover, a book label Le miroir hystorial/de france on upper cover, attachments for two clasps, one CLASP IN THE FORM OF ANTHONY OF BURGUNDY’S BADGE OF THE BARBICAN; 16th-century gilt tooled calf over ORIGINAL BOARDS (lacking one clasp, attachment for upper clasp lacking two pins, rebacked, bowed boards built up under pastedowns).