JUVENAL (fl. late 1st - early 2nd century), Satyrae, with gloss, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Tours, c.1472]
300 x 207mm. 118 leaves, COMPLETE, catchwords survive, ruled space: 195 x 90mm. ONE LARGE PRESENTATION MINIATURE depicting PIERRE DORIOLE, CHANCELLOR OF FRANCE, preceded by an acrostic poem of 32 verses, SIXTEEN HISTORIATED INITIALS opening each Satire (edges slightly frayed and stained). 19th-century red velvet, deerskin satchel.
A HANDSOME PRESENTATION COPY OF A SEMINAL CLASSICAL TEXT PRODUCED BY THE CIRCLE OF HUMANISTS RESPONSIBLE FOR FOUNDING THE FIRST PRINTING PRESS IN FRANCE, DESTINED FOR PIERRE DORIOLE, CHANCELLOR OF LOUIS XI OF FRANCE.
(1) ERHARD WINDSBERG (fl. 1486), doctor of medicine, proof-reader, editor and reviser at the first printing press in Paris. He is responsible for the dedicatory poem to Pierre Doriole (32 lines of Latin verse forming the acrostic ‘Pierre Doriolle Chancellier de France’), the distichs at the end of the volume: ‘Erhardus d. j. juvenalis cultori f.[elicitatem] optat / Ecce parens satyrarum princeps eliconis et auctor: / In pravos mittens tela severa notae’ (‘To the lovers of Juvenal Erhard wishes happiness / Behold the prince of satire, a chief writer of Helicon / hurling upon the wicked the piercing darts of ignominy’) and perhaps also the glosses. See below for a discussion on the present manuscript as a precursor of the first Juvenal printed in Paris. (2) PIERRE DORIOLE, CHANCELLOR OF FRANCE (1407-1485). Mayor of La Rochelle, he was made Chancellor on 26 June 1472, setting a terminus post quem for the production of the manuscript. (3) BUSON DE FONTAIN, inscription in a 17th-century hand at the end of the text. Perhaps Simon Buson, ‘seigneur d’Auxon’, near Besançon, and owner of Château d’Auxon in the early 1600s. A letter dated 23 February 1652 now in the collection Granvelle in the Bibliothèque municipale de Besançon (Granvelle 41, f.244) from Jacques-Nicolas de La Baume, comte de Saint-Amour is addressed to a ‘conseiller Buson de Fontain’. (3) ANATOLE CLAUDIN (1833-1906), bibliographer, bibliophile and bookseller. Likely his catalogue entry tipped into the front of the volume. For a brief description of the present manuscript, its conception and later provenance see A. Claudin, The First Paris Press: An Account of the Books Printed for G. Fichet and J. Heynlin in the Sorbonne 1470-1472, London, 1898 for 1897, pp. 24-28, in which he mentions that before reaching the current owners the manuscript belonged to a M. Perdrix and subsequently a M. Reveilhac from Evreux.
Dedicatory verses to Pierre Doriole f.2v; Juvenal, Satyrae, chapters I-XVI, ff.3-125v.
The Satyrae of Juvenal, an exploration of the morality and perceived threats to the social continuity of the Roman way of life, and one of the final great compilations of the Golden Age of classical literature, were widely read throughout the Middle Ages. Around 500 manuscripts are recorded by U. Knoche, Handschriftliche des Juvenaltextes, 1940.
The present manuscript was produced by the circle of eminent humanists who founded the short-lived but ground-breaking Sorbonne Press in Paris in 1470: Guillaume Fichet and Jean Heynlin, and the printers Ulrich Gering, Michael Friburger and Martin Crantz. Erhard Windsberg, whose name appears for the first time in a distich at the end of an edition of Cicero’s Tusculanae Quaestiones (printed in the first half of 1472), also features prominently in our manuscript – Claudin suggests that he assumed the functions and responsibilities of Heynlin, since there is no further trace of Heynlin’s literary collaboration with the group after March 1472 (Claudin, The First Paris Press, p.23).
Each Satire opens with a fine historiated initial surrounded by a partial border of flowers and acanthus. The large presentation miniature at the beginning of the work shows Pierre Doriole surrounded by his staff, and kneeling in the foreground we find Guillaume Fichet (or perhaps Erhard Windsberg). The palette is a muted wash of greys, browns, greens and golds and the figures are frozen in formulaic postures. The style of illumination is typical of the type of work produced in Tours in second half of the 15th century, and the figures with their long defined noses and hints of stubble are identical to those in a miniature depicting Fichet presenting his Rhetoric to Cardinal Bessarion in an incunable of 1471 produced by the Paris Press (Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Membranacei 53). The evident artistic influence of the Tours school of illumination in the decorative programme of our manuscript can perhaps be ascribed to Fichet’s presence in Amboise in the spring of 1472: we know from his letters that he was seeking an audience at the court of Louis XI. This is a deluxe exemplar of Juvenal’s Satires that preceded the exceptionally rare edition published later in 1472 (an edition that also included the Satires of Persius – imprint: Satyrae. Paris, Ulrich Gering, Martin Crantz and Michael Friburger, not before June 1472. H 9674; Bod-inc J-327 Sheppard 6073-6074; Pr 7833 (II); BMC VIII 6 (II); GW M15740). As with other texts taken on by the Sorbonne Press (Fichet’s Rhetoric, Bessarion’s Orationes and the Letters of Plato, for example) a primary manuscript copy – such as the present manuscript – was prepared and sent to a person of high rank before the publication of the printed editions, in our case Pierre Doriole, Chancellor of France under Louis XI and President of the Chambres des Comptes under Charles VIII.
The presentation miniature is on f.4; the historiated initials are on ff.4, 8v, 13v, 23, 29, 32, 52v, 59v, 67v, 72, 83, 89, 93, 100v, 110v and 112.