BARTHOLOMAEUS ANGLICUS (by 1203-1272), Le livre des propriétés des choses, in the French translation of Jean Corbechon, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Paris, c.1390]408 x 305mm. iv paper + 328 + iv paper leaves: 18, 26, 3-408, 4110, lacking one gathering of 8 between 39 and 40, original foliation in upper right corner of rectos running i -- iiicx and iiicxix -- iiicxxxv, modern pencilled foliation in lower left corner of rectos running 1-328, followed here, catchwords in lower margins of most final versos, 39-42 lines written in two columns in brown and black ink in lettre bâtarde by more than one hand between four verticals and 40-43 horizontals, ruled in grey, justification variable: c.285 x 85-18-85mm, with additional double ruled lines to all sides, chapter headings in red, paragraph marks and two- to three- line initials alternately in blue flourished with red and in red flourished with dark blue, TWENTY-THREE LARGE INITIALS WITH BAR BORDERS to side margin, the initials with staves of red and blue patterned in white with foliate infills on burnished gold grounds linked to bars of burnished gold, some with dragon terminals, leading to stems of ivy and vine leaves in gold, red, blue and white, THIRTY-EIGHT SMALL MINIATURES in burnished gold frames with gold leaves on ink tendrils to side margin, NINETEEN MINIATURES of single-column width in burnished gold frames with gold leaves on ink tendrils to margins, ONE LARGE QUADRIPARTITE MINIATURE WITH FULL BORDER of gold bars to side margins with dragon terminal and stems of gold and coloured leaves above two large initials on burnished gold grounds (lacking one gathering of eight leaves with miniature, early pasted-in vellum replacements with careful imitation of the original texts and text decoration on versos for two miniatures cut from ff.192 and 272, cropped into original foliation on final folios, paper reinforcements to f.1 where there is wear to miniature, some wear to a few other miniatures, some worming to first and last leaves, brown stain to edges of lower outer corner of ff.116-220, some leaves creased). 18th-century French brown mottled calf, spine in eight compartments gilt, red morocco lettering piece with title and label, gilt edges (repaired, crack to upper joint, scuffed). Half red morocco box.
PROBABLY THE EARLIEST SURVIVING COPY IN FRENCH, AND THE FINEST IN PRIVATE HANDS, OF ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPENDIA OF MEDIEVAL KNOWLEDGE, ILLUMINATED BY PIERRE REMIET
1. The French translation of Bartholomew the Englishman's On the properties of things was made for King Charles V of France in 1372, as detailed in the opening heading on f.1. Production of luxuriously illustrated copies centred on the French court and this volume was made in Paris c. 1390 for such a patron. On f.170v, it was thought helpful to explain that locustes are called sautereaux, in Paris. The contemporary court may be reflected in the presentation miniature, f.1, which follows an established pattern except for the two crowned princes behind the throne of Charles V, who had died in 1380; they perhaps represent his brothers, John, Duke of Berry, and Philip, Duke of Burgundy; his third brother Louis of Anjou died in 1384. The royal fleur de lys appear in several backgrounds.
2. Family of de Beauvoir de Chastellux or Chastelluz of Burgundy: Coullanges Chastelluz Bazarne in large letters, followed by tous freres et amys tesmoins leurs seigns sy dessus mis, then in large letters Chastellux and smaller Et appartient ce p[rese]nt livre audit Chastellux p[ar] partaige faict avecque des dits freres dessus nomez Chastellux (f.327v); Loys de Chastellux f.338v). The three brothers are Olivier de Beauvoir, seigneur de Coulanges, Louis de Beauvoir, seigneur de Chastellux, and Philippe de Beauvoir, seigneur de Basernes, who touchingly proclaimed their friendship and joint ownership, perhaps in 1520 when their father Philippe died. Philippe, his eldest son, was born in 1505 and Olivier, his youngest, in 1510. Both Louis and Olivier were still minors in 1538 when the brothers divided their father's property, presumably the point when the book was assigned to Louis. Although the brothers evidently regarded it as an important family possession, surely inherited from their father, it is not clear how long it had been in the family's ownership. If commissioned by an ancestor, the likely candidate is Guillaume de Beauvoir (d.1408), although he was on the periphery of the Parisian court, with lands concentrated in Nevers and Burgundy; in 1405 he was made chamberlain to Philippe, comte de Nevers, the youngest son of Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy. Guillaume's son and heir Claude (d.1454) was probably still quite young in 1406 when he followed his father into Philippe of Nevers's service; in 1409 he became chamberlain to Nevers's nephew, Philip the Good, future Duke of Burgundy, who in 1418 appointed him Marshal of France for Henry VI of England. Claude was the great-grandfather of the three brothers; many generations of the family served with distinction in the French armies.
Louis de Beauvoir, baron de Chastellux and vicomte d'Avallon (c.1507-1580), was appointed panetier to Henri II, and a gentleman of the chamber to Charles IX. He served in various phases of the Wars of Religion and was made Governor of the Citadel of Metz in 1570. His titles and the book were inherited by his son, Olivier (1542-1617), a supporter of Henry IV's right to the throne and his gentleman of the chamber in 1597. Olivier must be the Chastellux who signed the note on f.328v, recording that Loyse Bernard gave birth to a son on 21 December 1581 who was baptised Hannibal. This is either an illegitimate son or the short lived child of an otherwise unknown marriage. Olivier went on to give classical names to the children from his recorded marriage of 1583. His eldest son, Hercule, comte de Chastellux (1584-1645) and his wife Charlotte de Blaigny (1587-1663), a great-granddaughter of the bibliophile Jean Grolier, who married in 1612, recorded the births of eight of their children from Olivier born in 1613 -- above is noted his death at the age of five months -- to Georges born in 1626, f.327. Of them, it was Philippe César who continued the line. César Philippe, as he came to be known (1623-1695), recorded the birth in 1664 of the eldest child of his second marriage, Bonne, on f.327v.
The Burgundian style of the 18th-century binding and the preservation of the inscriptions suggest that the manuscript remained with the family, presumably in the château de Chastellux, near Vézelay -- the baptisms all took place in the chapel by the garden of 'this place', ceans. It was probably lost at the Revolution, when the château was sacked and the family went into exile. The manuscript was evidently not known to the comte Henri de Chastellux, who refounded the library, organised the archive and wrote a history of the family, le comte H.-P.-C. de Chastellux, Histoire généalogique de la maison de Chastellux, 1869.
3. Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Barrois (1784-1855), the great bibliophile who was not particular about the provenance of his acquisitions: sold with his collection in 1849.
4. Bertram, 4th Earl of Ashburnham (1797-1878): purchased with the Barrois Library in 1849, B.34 in A Catalogue of the Manuscripts at Ashburnham Place, London 1853. The Barrois Library was Lord Ashburnham's single most important purchase but was only a part of his exceptional collection.
5. Bertram, 5th Earl of Ashburnham (1840-1913): lot 237 in the Ashburnham Sale, Sotheby's 11 June 1901, when bought by Baer and Co; with Olschki, Florence, 1903; Josef Baer, Frankfurt, Handschriften und Drucke des Mittelalters und der Renaissance, Katalog 500, I, 1905, no 5.
5. M. Pavillie, Toulouse, acquired from Jacques Rosenthal, Munich; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 19 May 1976, lot 8, when bought by H.P. Kraus, New York, who had the collation noted in pencil on the final endleaf; passed from a private British collection in 1988 to a titled owner who sold it at Sotheby's, 23 June 1998, lot 52.
Dedicatory prologue of the translator, the Augustinian Jean Corbechon, to Charles V of France, ff.1-2; prologue of the author, Bartholomaeus Anglicus, ff.2-3; Book I on God, ff.3-7v; Book II on angels and devils, ff.7v-18v; Book III on the soul, ff.18v-31; Book IV on the elements and the four humours, ff.31-41v; Book V on the body, ff.41v-77v; Book VI on the characteristics of man, ff.77v-91v; Book VII on illnesses and their treatment, ff.91v-120v; Book VIII on heavenly bodies, ff.121-141; Book IX on measuring time, ff.141-151; Book X on matter and the elements, especially fire, ff.151-154; Book XI on air and weather, ff.154-160v; Book XII on birds, ff.161-174; Book XIII on water and fish, ff.174-183; Book XIV on the earth, ff.183-192v; Book XV on the countries of the world, ff.192v-215v; Book XVI on stones and metals, ff.215v-229v; Book XVII on trees and plants, ff.229v-272v; Book XVIII on beasts, 109 chapters remaining, lacking end, ff.272v-310; Book XIX on phenomena without substance, lacking beginning, opening in chapter 40 with smell and continuing to taste and food, ff.311-321; chapters 114-148 on weights, measures and musical instruments signalled with large initial, ff.321v-326v, chapter 149 listing the authorities used, ff.326v-327.
Bartholomaeus Anglicus was a Franciscan, who studied and taught in Paris from 1224-1231 and then at the Franciscan school at Magdeburg. There around 1245 he compiled the De proprietatibus rerum with the explicit intention of explaining 'the properties of things' to help people understand the Bible. Since the Holy Spirit has transmitted meaning figuratively, through figures et paraboles et samblances de proprietes des choses naturelles et artificielles, f.2, 'the properties of things' need to be understood literally before they can be interpreted metaphorically to discover the Bible's true meaning. In the final chapter, he listed his sources to establish the validity of his work, which was rapidly accepted as authoritative, becoming an official textbook in Paris in 1284. It was enormously influential in shaping how people understood both the world of the Bible and their contemporary world.
Charles V (1338-1380) instigated numerous translations of instructive works for his own benefit and that of his kingdom. To achieve a clear and easily comprehensible French version of the De proprietatibus, Corbechon sometimes abbreviated complex passages and sometimes added to the text to correct mistakes or to clarify obscurities. His prologue stresses that the explanatory gloss on the Bible conceived by Bartholomaeus constitutes a general encyclopaedia, which indeed achieved a wide readership in his translation. It survives in over 40 manuscripts; only the present lot and a later provincial copy of the 1470s with eight miniatures (Doheny Collection, Christie's 2 December 1987, lot 165) are known to remain in private hands (see Meyer).
The presentation copy made for Charles V in 1372 is lost, so that the present lot, datable c.1390 but perhaps produced in the 1380s, may be the earliest to survive. Its miniatures, particularly ff.77v and 215v, include costume that predates that in Charles of Orleans's copy (Bibl. Ste Geneviève, ms 1028), probably bought by his father, Louis of Orleans, in 1396. All the great bibliophiles of the French court wanted the book: Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, paid for one in January 1402 (Brussels, KBR ms 9094); John Duke of Berry was given a copy for New Year 1404 (Chantilly, Musée Condé, ms 339) and purchased another in 1416 (Rheims, Bibl. mun. ms 993); Charles VI's son and heir, Louis Duke of Guyenne, seized Jean de Montaigu's copy in 1409 (London, BL, Add. 11612).
The Arcana copy is not only a very early witness to Charles V's lost original but an accurate one in retaining the 19 book division described by Christine de Pizan. The two Berry copies, the Montaigu-Guyenne copy and a manuscript datable to the early 15th century (BnF, ms fr.16933) also have 19 books and so are the base for the edition currently being prepared (see van den Abeele). In most copies, chapter 114 of Book 19 was made the first chapter of Book 20.
Whereas the Latin text was seldom illustrated, the French translation had an extensive cycle of miniatures from the start. The Arcana volume is among the early copies that included the fullest cycle of miniatures, presumably as devised for Charles V's copy: the quadripartite frontispiece, a miniature to open every book, miniatures within Book II at chapters 7, 11 and 15, and within Book VIII at chapter 33, and a small miniature for each of the 38 chapters within Book XII. Like the Orleans copy, however, it omits the words from the King's scroll in the frontispiece (Byrne, 1981). Subsequently, the miniatures for Books XV and XVIII were excised and their text and text decoration carefully replaced, probably in the later 15th century, ff.192, 272; the miniature for Book XIX was lost with the missing gathering.
The illumination is by the hand of Perrin (Pierre) Remiet, documented in Paris from 1386 to 1428, as identified by François Avril ('Trois manuscrits napolitains des collections de Charles V et du duc de Berry', Bibliothèque de l'École des chartes, 127, 1969, pp.291-328). For a convincing refutation of Michael Camille's identification of this hand with Jean de Nizières, named as illuminator in the Orleans Propriété des choses, see R. and M. Rouse, Manuscripts and their Makers, Commercial Book Production in Medieval Paris 1200-1500, 2000, I, pp.293-6, and II, pp.79 and 115. De Nizières was perhaps responsible for most of the miniatures in the Orleans volume, where only the frontispiece and the first miniature are by Remiet, the hand of the Arcana copy, and are closely related to the Arcana compositions.
Remiet's work is marked by a strong sense of line and shape yet with naturalistically modelled figures set against the finely patterned backgrounds. He himself apparently painted the first seven miniatures and those on ff.91v, 136v, 154 and 174; a very gifted assistant with a more linear treatment of faces may have contributed those on ff.41v, 121, 141, 151; the softer painting and smaller headed figures on f.77v may indicate a third hand. The delightful series of the creatures of the air is difficult to attribute precisely but shows all Remiet's refined sense of colour. His illustrations were evidently appreciated, since he also contributed to the Orleans copy, Philip the Bold's copy (M. Camille, Master of Death, 1996, p.144, where this hand is called de Nizières) and an early 15th-century copy, BnF, ms fr.216, which reuses, often in a simplified form, many of the successful compositions of the Arcana volume.
This is a rare opportunity to acquire perhaps the earliest copy of the French translation of the text that informed comprehension of the Bible and embodied man's understanding of the natural world for nearly three centuries, a copy that originated with the book producers of the court of France at its apogee, was treasured by the distinguished house of Chastellux and then acquired by some of the greatest manuscript collectors of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The subject of the miniature over both columns is as follows:
f.1 In three of four quadrilobed compartments, God creates the heavens, Jay fait le ciel et la lumiere Pour estre a homme chamberiere, fire, air and water with birds and fish, Jay fait le feu lair et le mer Pour homme me doit bien amer, and the earth with plants and animals, Jay fait la terre bien garnie Pour donner a homme sa vie; in the fourth, against a fleur de lys background, the kneeling Jean Corbechon, in black Augustinian habit, is instructed to make his translation by Charles V, whose speech scroll mimics that of the divine Creator; behind the king are two princes, perhaps his brothers, the Dukes of Berry and Burgundy.
The subjects of the miniatures of single column width are as follows:
f.7v Book II 1: God, standing on the earth, watches the rebel angels falling as devils from a heaven filled with good angels
f.10v Book II 7: The Trinity in a ring of seraphim with angels in adoration and making music, perhaps representing cherubim and thrones, the other members of the first angelic order
f.13v Book II 11 (text opens with large initial and bar border f.13v): The second order of angels, principalities, powers and dominions, although the first ranks are depicted as seraphim and cherubim, above two dominions vanquishing devils
f.14v Book II 15: The third order of angels, virtues (again as seraphim), archangels with scrolls and angels with vessels
f.18v Book III 1; God breathing life into Adam
f.31 Book IV 1: an academic in his professorial chair lectures a group of students on benches; above four pots may represent the four elements
f.41v Book V 1: a doctor in his academic robes holds out a medicine pot towards two injured men on crutches
f.77v Book VI 1: the ages of man, a little boy holding his hood beside an old man gesturing at three younger men, one in academic dress and one fashionably attired
f.91v Book VII 1: an academic lecturing his students, against a fleur de lys background
f.121 Book VIII 1: an academic holds up what may be intended for an armillary sphere towards a group of four standing students
f.136v Book VIII 33: an academic points up to the sun, moon and stars as he instructs three men
f.141 Book IX 1: a seated academic points to a much more plausible armillary sphere, while a second points up to sun, moon and stars and a third man listens
f.151 Book X 1: a black robed author, perhaps the Augustinian Jean Corbechon, writes at a desk beside a round bookstand
f.154 Book XI 1: an academic points up at a circular world map with four wind heads blowing across the encircling sea
f.161 Book XII 1: in a quadripartite miniature an eagle, a swan, a heron and a cock
f.174 Book XIII 1: three men attend to an academic as he points to a spring bursting from a rock
f.183 Book XIV 1 (text opens with large initial and bar border on f.183v): against a burnished gold ground, a woodland of fruiting trees with roosting birds above flowery grass with a stag, a lion and a wild boar
f.215v Book XVI 1: a black robed cleric, pointing to a golden dish of gemstones and minerals, lectures from an open book to an audience of academics and the fashionably dressed
f.229v Book XVII 1 (text opens with large initial and bar border on f.230): a flowery woodland against a burnished gold sky
The subjects of the small miniatures, mostly with narrow strips of grass and backgrounds of burnished gold or stylised patterns of colours and liquid gold, are approximately as follows - Corbechon himself was not always certain how to translate the Latin names: :
f.162v Book XII 2: an eagle
f.164 Book XII 3: a falcon
f.164v Book XII 4: a kestrel; Book XII 5: two beehives, each approached by a very large bee
f.166 Book XII 6: an owl; Book XII 7: two doves
f.166v Book XII 8: two quails
f.167 Book XII 9: a stork with a snake in its beak
f.167v Book XII 10: a raven flying between two trees; Book XII 11: a crow flying up to a tree
f.168 Book XII 12: a swan in water against a burnished gold ground
f.168v book XII 13: eleven mosquitoes; Book XII 14: five crickets (looking like flies); Book XII 15: the phoenix amidst flames on an altar
f.169 Book XII 16: a crane; Book XII 17: a cock
f.169v Book XII 18: a capon; Book XII 19: a hen
f.170 Book XII 20: a griffon; Book XII 21: a gerfalcon; Book XII 22: a swallow
f.170v Book XII 23: a calandra; Book XII 24: a lark; Book XII 25: a locust
f.171 Book XII 26: a diver landing on a river; Book XII 27: a kite; Book XII 28: an owl
f.171v Book XII 29: bittern, dipping its bill in a stream; Book XII 30: a pelican, stabbing her beak into her breast to feed her young, in a treetop nest
f.172 Book XII 31: two partridges; Book XII 32: a peacock displaying his tail; Book XII 33: one sparrow flying between two trees, a second perched on a third tree
f.172v Book XII 34: an ostrich; Book XII 35: a turtle-dove
f.173 Book XII 36: a vulture
f.173v Book XII 37: an owl beside a stream; Book XII 38: a hoopoe; Book XII 39: a bat hovering over the earth
In addition to those accompanying miniatures, large initials and bar borders occur on f.2 Author's prologue, f.3 Book I 114
BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR THIS MANUSCRIPT:
D. Byrne, 'The Boucicaut Master and the iconographic tradition of the Livre des propriétés des choses', Gazette des Beaux-arts, sér. 6, 92, 1978, pp.149-64, p.163
D. Byrne, 'Rex imago Dei; Charles V of France and the Livre des propriétés des choses', Journal of Medieval History, 7, 1981, pp.97-113, pp.103-4, 106
H. Meyer, Die Enzyclopädie des Bartholomäus Anglicus, Untersuchungen zur Überlieferungs- und Rezeptionsgeschichte von "De proprietatibus rerum", 2000, p.329
B. van den Abeele, 'Etat de l'édition du De proprietatibus rerum', in Bartholomaeus anglicus, De proprietatibus rerum - actes du colloque international, Münster 2003, B. van den Abeele et al eds, 2005, pp.9-10