THE SAINT-LOUP BREVIARY, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Troyes, c.1475-80]
A very fine breviary illuminated by the Master of Guyot Le Peley and a rare survival in private hands from the renowned library of the Augustinian abbey of Saint-Loup, Troyes.
Founded c.841 to house the relics of St Lupus of Troyes, under the patronage of Adalelm, Count of Troyes, the abbey was moved within the city walls where the canons – Chrétien de Troyes, it is thought, among them – found themselves well positioned at the centre of the burgeoning literary culture that developed in Troyes, and indeed throughout Champagne, in the later medieval period. Schoenberg database records no other manuscript from the library of this once-grand house – largely destroyed during the Revolution – to have been offered publicly for sale.
(1) Made for the ABBEY OF SAINT-LOUP, TROYES, as specified in the incipit. St Sabianus of Troyes appears in the Sanctorale: St Loup and other Troyes saints may have featured in the now-lacking gatherings of this section. After the destruction of the abbey during the Revolution, the library of Saint-Loup was transferred into Troyes municipal ownership and her manuscripts now survive in the Médiathèque du Grand Troyes. (2) MAURICE BURRUS, no 105, acquired at auction Giraud-Badin, 3 May 1937, lot 1.
Breviary, use of the abbey of Saint-Loup of Troyes (‘Incipit br[e]v[i]ariu[m] s[e]c[un]d[u]m usu[m] ecc[lesi]e et monasterii s[an]cti lupi trecen[sis]’): Temporale, opening with the first Sunday of Advent, and ending imperfectly with Gospel readings for the Sundays from Pentecost to Advent running to the 12th Sunday, ff. 1-108; Sanctorale, opening imperfectly before the feast of St Vincent and ending just after the feast of St Clement, ff.109 – 152v.
The miniatures are the work of the Master of Guyot Le Peley, named for the Troyes citizen whose commissions, along with those of his family members, would occupy the artist c.1475-180 (see F. Avril and N. Reynaud, 1995, pp. 186-188): they resemble most closely a miniature added by the Master to a c.1400 Hours (Paris, S.M.A.F., ms. 79-5;see also F. Avril et al. Très Riches Heures de Champagne, Paris, 2007, pp.144-145), depicting St Nicholas before the Le Peley family. Particularly distinctive are his very beautiful female faces, with almond-shaped eyes and high-arched brows. The borders, inhabited by birds, are those seen in two versions of Guillaume de Nangis’ Chronique des rois de France (Paris, BnF, Français 2598 and Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery, W.306) illuminated by the Master.
The subjects of the miniatures as follows: Isaiah f.1, Nativity f.18, Adoration of the Magi f.31v, Resurrection f.48, Ascension f.64v, Pentecost f.76, Presentation at the Temple f.115, Annunciation f.121, Assumption of the Virgin f.132v, Mary enthroned as Queen of Heaven f.141v.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION AND CONDITION:
220 x 160mm. iii + 152 + iii. Bound too tightly to collate, two columns of 33 lines, ruled space: 142 x 105mm. TEN COLUMN-WIDE MINIATURES, measuring c.57 x 47mm, with full borders, elsewhere marginal decoration of vine-leaf and foliate bursts (lacking a calendar and leaves after ff.24, 32, 108, 116, 124, 140 and 150 – these lacunae perhaps representing the loss of one or more gatherings – and with gatherings 9 and 10 misbound; water damage to f.1 affecting its miniature, occasional pigment losses elsewhere, scattered repairs to the vellum). 19th century brown calf with gold tooling by Courteval, blue watered-silk endpapers (split to upper joint, rubbed).