Master of Jean de Mauléon (active 1520s)
Master of Jean de Mauléon (active 1520s)
Master of Jean de Mauléon (active 1520s)
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Master of Jean de Mauléon (active 1520s)
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Master of Jean de Mauléon (active 1520s)

BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1525]

Master of Jean de Mauléon (active 1520s)
BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1525]
An exceptional Book of Hours painted with finesse and flamboyance by the Master of Jean de Mauléon, one of the ‘Bellemare group’ of artists whose manuscripts rank among the highest achievements of French Renaissance painting.

144 x 85mm. i + 156 + i, complete, collation: 1-34, 410, 5-88, 916, 10-198, 206, 20 lines in a humanist script, ruled space: 94 x 47mm, one- to three-line gilt initials on black grounds throughout, gilt line-fillers of logs and cordelières, text pages bordered with gilt cordelières with three-looped knots, 12 quarter-page calendar miniatures (33-46 x 48mm) representing the occupations of the months with signs of the Zodiac inset, 25 small miniatures of the Evangelists and the Saints on black backgrounds illustrating the Gospel Extracts and the Suffrages, and 17 full-page miniatures set within Italianate tabernacle frames, facing text pages with full panel borders alternately a) scattered insects and flowers, sometimes acanthus, on gold grounds and b) grotesques drawn from classical iconography and architectural motifs on black grounds. French 18th-century citron morocco, gilt line borders and spine decoration; red morocco doublures with gilt-tooled borders and fleur-de-lys corner ornaments; edges gilt. Red morocco slip-case, gilt title on spine.

Calendar ff.1v-13; Gospel extracts ff.15-19; Passion according to John ff.19-26v; Stabat mater ff.26v-28; Hours of the Virgin, use of Rome ff.29-79v: matins f.29, lauds f.42, prime f.51, terce f.54, sext f.58, none f.60, vespers f.65, compline f.71; Hours of the Cross ff.79v-84; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.85-87; Penitential Psalms with Litany ff.88-102; Office of the Dead, use of Rome, ff.103-123v and f.127-134v (misbound); Suffrage to the Trinity ff.124-125; Obsecro te ff.126-126v and ff.135-136 (misbound); O intemerata ff.136-137v; Suffrages ff.137v-149; Prayers to be said during Mass ff.149v-150; Prayers to St Gregory ff.151-156.

The extraordinarily rich miniatures are the work of a Parisian illuminator known as the Master of Jean de Mauléon, one of the so-called ‘Bellemare group’ of artists whose manuscripts rank among the highest achievements of French Renaissance painting. The group is named for their association with Noël Bellemare, the Antwerp-trained painter under whose direction an entirely new style was introduced to French manuscript illumination in the second quarter of the 16th century. First identified by Dr Myra Orth – who named them the ‘1520s Hours Workshop’ – the atelier was responsible for illuminating at least 26 high quality manuscripts, dating from c.1522 until c.1551, the majority of these small-format Books of Hours written in a delicate humanistic script. Today, the three principal artists to have emerged from the group, to whom the illumination of two or more manuscripts is attributed, are the Master of Jean de Mauléon, the Doheny Master, and the Master of the Getty Epistles. The illuminators evidently shared model drawings, working in a distinctive style that evolved across almost three decades.

The group appears to have coalesced under the artistic direction of Noël Bellemare, whose career in Paris and entrepreneurial function at the head of the 1520s Workshop has been established by Guy-Michel Leproux (see Leproux, ‘Bellemare’, 1998; La Peinture, 2001). Bellemare is first documented in Paris in 1515, when records of his work as peintre at the Hôtel-Dieu begin, and he remained in the city until his death in 1546. Active as a painter in Antwerp, his work in Paris was first discovered in designs supplied to the stained-glass maker Jean Chastellain: the precedent for painters to supply drawings for stained glass and for tapestry – figural art forms closely related to manuscript illumination in the 16th century – was well established, and Leproux proposes that Bellemare’s relationship with the 1520s Workshop was structured along similar lines, with Bellemare supplying model drawings to the miniaturists. Bellemare may also have painted some miniatures himself: together, he and the miniaturists who rendered his designs produced the most numerous high quality manuscripts made in France at that time. The influence of Noël Bellemare accounts for an overarching unity of style across the group, within which an evolution can be discerned from a marked appreciation of Antwerp Mannerism with frequent borrowings from Dürer that characterise the Master of Jean de Mauléon in the 1520s to an increasing interest in Italian graphics and the work of Raphael in the Doheny Master and the Master of the Getty Epistles in the following decade. Further to this, it answers a specific question posed by Myra Orth as to why a number of the compositions that reappear across the Bellemare group manuscripts precisely copy or utilise details from traceable Antwerp Mannerist drawings: it seems likely that Bellemare brought the drawings – or copies – with him from Antwerp to Paris.

The Master of Jean de Mauléon is named for a Book of Hours painted for the bishop of Saint-Bernard de Comminges, now at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore (MS W.499). The Hours of Jean de Mauléon can be dated internally to 1524; the Master was one of the 1520s Workshop’s earliest interpreters of Bellemare’s models. His strongly Flemish miniatures are small in scale and peopled with restless, imaginatively-posed figures whose sharp-featured, sometimes caricatural faces are framed in flying wiry locks of hair. His compositions are marked by intensely complex drapery patterns and a tendency to set scenes within the architectural ruins typical of Antwerp Mannerism; his dependence on Netherlandish prototypes is most pronounced in comparison with the more Italianate style of the Doheny Master, with whom he collaborated on a manuscript of the Pauline Epistles held at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (MS L. 1721-1921). After Walters W.449, our manuscript is the only Book of Hours whose illumination is attributed in its entirety to the Master of Jean de Mauléon by Myra Orth.

In addition to the Walters Hours, the illumination in the Rosenberg Hours is closely comparable to three miniatures painted by the Master of Jean de Mauléon in the Albiac Hours (Christie’s, 29 November 2000, lot 23; now in an American private collection), as well as a Book of Hours painted by an associate of the Master in Washington D.C. (Library of Congress, Rosenwald Collection, MS 10). The Rosenberg, Albiac and Rosenwald Hours seem likely to be at least as early in date as the Walters manuscript. Worthy of specific attention, as an example of how model drawings provided by Bellemare were employed, is a miniature depicting King David and Bathsheba (our f.87v), a composition that appears across all four Hours and in further manuscripts painted by the group, for which Orth identified the ultimate source: an Antwerp Mannerist drawing now held in Vienna (Albertina, inv. 2996). Bathsheba appears in a half-moon bath set within a walled garden, beneath a set of apartments from whose windows David spies upon her; she is surrounded by her companions and attended by a messenger, who relays a message from the king. The buildings, the attendants and the messenger, the bath itself and Bathsheba’s mirror: these elements are selectively copied, reversed, and subtly altered – in one case with reference to a 1504 Dürer engraving of Adam and Eve – across manuscripts, yet the original model is immediately recognisable. In some ways, our miniature emulates most faithfully the drawing in the Albertina, especially on the left-hand side of the composition, where the pilastered corner, the turret, and the Flemish gabled castle over an arcade retain the same spatial relationship, if simplified. In perhaps the most important manuscript to emanate from the Bellemare group, the Hours of Anne of Austria (BnF,, painted by the Master of the Getty Epistles, the Bathsheba miniature seems to have been copied from that in the Rosenberg Hours.

The Italianate architectural border topped by a shell, a visual reference to Venus, which frames the Bathsheba miniature in the Rosenberg Hours replicates that in the Walters manuscript; indeed, the borders are closely comparable throughout the two manuscripts. Elsewhere, shared models can clearly be observed for the Visitation miniatures in the Rosenberg and Walters manuscripts and for the Annunciation miniatures in the Rosenberg and Albiac Hours. The latter was not thought by Myra Orth to have been illuminated in its entirety by the Master of Jean de Mauléon: that the Master worked with helpers is virtually a given, but in spite of a variation in style across the miniatures in our manuscript, Orth identified the hand of the Master throughout.

The subjects of the large miniatures are: St John on Patmos f.14v; Christ carrying the Cross f.19v; Annunciation f.28v; Visitation f.42v; Adoration of the Shepherds f.50v; Annunciation to the Shepherds f.54v; Adoration of the Magi f.57v; Presentation in the Temple f.61; Flight into Egypt f.64v; Assumption of the Virgin f.70v; Crucifixion f.80; Pentecost f.84v; David and Bathsheba f.87v; Destruction of the House of Job f.102v; Job on the Dung Heap f.107v; Virgin and Child on crescent moon f.125v; Mass of St Gregory f.150v

The subjects of the small miniatures are: St Luke writing f.16; St Matthew writing f.17; St Mark writing f.18; St Michael f.138; St John the Baptist f.138; St John the Evangelist f.138v; Sts Peter and Paul f.139; St James the Greater f.139v; St Andrew f.140; St Stephen f.140v; St Christopher f.141; St Laurence f.142; St Sebastian f.142v; St Nicholas f.143v; St Claudius f.144; St Martin f.145; St Anthony f.145v; St Roch f.145v; St Anne f.146v; Mary Magdalen f.147; St Catherine f.147; St Margaret f.148; St Barbara f.148v; St Genevieve f.149; Christ as Man of Sorrows f.149v

The subjects of the calendar miniatures are as follows: Feasting and Aquarius f.1v; Sitting by the fire and Pisces f.2v; Pruning trees and Aries f.3v; Hawking and Taurus f.4v; Courtly love (a seated woman weaves a floral crown) and Gemini f.5v; Sheep shearing and Cancer f.6v; Hay harvest and Leo f.7v; Wheat harvest and Virgo f.8v; Sowing seeds and Libra f.9v; Wine-making and Scorpio f.10v; Gathering acorns for pigs and Sagittarius f.11v; Slaughtering pigs and Capricorn f.12v.
(1) In common with all but one of the Hours produced by the Bellemare workshop, our manuscript does not show any evidence of having been made for a specific individual. The Hours of the Virgin and the Office of the Dead are for the standard use of Rome and the calendar is a composite, filled with saints venerated across dioceses and countries. The Litany and Suffrages are clearly French but otherwise not personalised. The model for the calendar appears to be a printed Hours for the use of Rome published by Geoffrey Tory in 1524/25; the Obsecro te prayers are also close to Parisian printed editions of Tory’s 1525 Hours, as well as those of Simon Vostre in 1520. These Hours were painted in Paris, which emerged as the uncontested centre of the French manuscript trade following the death of the Tours artist Jean Bourdichon in 1521, but this offers no clue as to the first owner of these Hours: the patrons for whom Parisian illuminators worked moved around frequently, often following the royal court whose most frequent sojourns encompassed Amboise, Blois and Fontainebleau, as well as Paris in the winter.

(2) Member of the Romilly family: 18th-century engraved bookplate with the motto ‘Persevere’ inside upper cover. The first of the family to win public distinction, the British lawyer, politician and legal reformer Sir Samuel Romilly (1757-1818), came originally from a Huguenot family with connections in Geneva and Paris; both he and his son, John, 1st Baron Romilly (1802-1874) are known to have collected books and manuscripts.

(3) Henry Huth (1815-1878): described in The Huth Library: Catalogue of the Famous Library of Printed Books, Illuminated Manuscripts [...] Collected by Henry Huth, 1880, II, p.726; by descent to his son –

(4) Alfred Henry Huth (1850-1910): his oval gilt blue leather book-label inside upper cover; sold at the Huth sale, Sotheby’s, 2 June 1913, lot 3800, to Quaritch, sold in 1916 to –

(5) Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968), his Western MS. 91: his sale, Sotheby’s, 24 June 1969, ‘Chester Beatty Western Manuscripts: Part II’, lot 72, bought by Maggs.

(6) Sotheby’s, 13 July 1977, lot 77 – bought by H.P. Kraus. Purchased by Alexandre Rosenberg from H.P. Kraus on 5 March 1979 for $63,180.

(7) Rosenberg Ms 9.
J. Plummer, The Last Flowering: French Painting in Manuscripts 1420-1530, New York and London, 1982, no 131.
M.D. Orth, ‘French Renaissance Manuscripts: The 1520s Hours Workshop and the Master of the Getty Epistles’, The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, vol. 16, 1988, pp. 46, 58-59.
M.D. Orth, Renaissance Manuscripts: The Sixteenth Century, 2015, p.295.

Western Illuminated Manuscripts from the Library of Sir Chester Beatty, Trinity College, Dublin, 1955, no 42.
The Last Flowering, The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 18 November 1982 to 30 January 1983, no 131.

Brought to you by

Eugenio Donadoni
Eugenio Donadoni Senior Specialist, Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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