BEROSUS (fl.300BC), Chaldean History, in French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Paris, 1505-6]245 x 172 mm, 82 leaves: 14 (i-ii bifolio, i current pastedown, ii former lower pastedown; iii-iv bifolio, iii former upper pastedown glued to ii), 26, 3-98, 108(viii current pastedown), COMPLETE, written in brown ink in a rounded humanistic bookhand in 19 lines between two verticals and 2 horizontals ruled in red, justification: 137 x 70 mm, additional double vertical rulings in some outer margins for side headings, rubrics in red, line endings and paragraph marks in liquid gold on grounds of maroon or blue, 45 LARGE INITIALS IN LIQUID GOLD AND COLOURS WITH SCROLLS EXTENDING INTO THE MARGINS, some staves formed of beasts and dragons, some grounds enclosing birds, others with flower and foliate designs, SIX LARGE INITIALS WITH FULL BORDERS of beasts, birds, flowers or fruit on liquid gold grounds or divided grounds of liquid gold and panels of red or blue acanthus enclosing initials and mottoes, FIVE PAGES OF GENEALOGICAL TABLES in colours and liquid gold, ONE FULL-PAGE MINIATURE IN A CLASSICAL ARCHITECTURAL FRAME IN LIQUID GOLD (miniature frame rubbed and slightly trimmed, facing text and border slightly rubbed, some paint losses from miniature). Rebound in early 19th-century speckled brown morocco in 17th-century style, spine gilt in deven compartments with lettering piece, original pastedowns lifted (joints and extremities lightly rubbed).
THE LIVRE D'AMOUR OF ANNE MALET DE GRAVILLE
1. Anne Malet de Graville (c.1490-1540): the prologue dedicates the book 'A vous madamoiselle Anne de graville', who appears in the facing miniature, identified by the arms of her father, the bibliophile Louis Malet de Graville (c.1448-1516), and by the motto over her head IEN GUARDE UN LEAL, which, if spelt GARDE is an anagram of her name. Two other mottos appear in the miniature and, with her initial A, in the borders: non plus amour and a autre non, apparently those of her cousin and future husband, Pierre de Balsac, seigneur d'Etrangues (d. c.1530), with whom she eloped in 1506. In the conclusion he expresses the wish to be her servant 'et a aultre non', making a pleasing play between her initial and à. Anne later formally inscribed her name with the date 1518 on the original upper pastedown, above his autograph dedication 'Tout pour le myeulx votre bon cousin et amy cest moy'. In the prologue, he explains that since, against all reason, divine, natural and human, he has brought her such sorrow -- through her father's irrational hostility to their love -- he has made this translation from Latin into French to ease her heart by 'doulce consolacion' and for honour and love of her at love's command. In the miniature, a winged Amor guides the hand giving her the book and in the colophon he names the book le livre d'amour.
On what was formerly the lower pastedown, Anne de Graville added an intriguingly personal autograph note 'Memoire que je me souvienne de ce qui mavint le samedy huitieme novembre lissant dedans mon lit a annet', that she should remember what happened to her while she was reading in her bed at Anet on 8 November. Anne seems never to have regretted her choice and the couple had eleven children. The romance of their story is intensified by the knowledge that Anne herself became a poet, best known for Le beau romant des deux amants, a rhymed version of Boccaccio's Theseida, dedicated to the Queen of France, Claude; the Queen's presentation copy is now in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Ms 5116. Her authorship of poems commenting on Alain Chartier's Belle dame sans mercy is attested by her anagram motto, Paris, BnF, Ms fr. 2553 . In 1510, about four years after her elopement, Anne made peace with her father, although at the cost of renouncing part of her inheritance. After his death, she did succeed in being largely reinstated and inherited many of his books. The inscription of her name with the same date of 1518 as in the Livre d'amour is found in manuscripts inherited from Louis de Graville (e.g. Yale University, Beinecke Library, Marston Ms 274, and BnF, Ms fr.254), suggesting that the arrival of his books led her to review her entire collection. Her own library passed to her daughter, Jeanne, and son-in-law, Claude d'Urfé (1501-1558). If the Livre d'amour formed part of the famous d'Urfé library at the Château de la Bastie, it had apparently left by the early 18th century.
2. A Darremond D R: added in a 17th-century hand to the former lower pastedown.
3. Claude Bernard Rousseau, auditeur des comptes: early 18th-century armorial bookplate inside upper cover. It seems very plausible that this was lifted from the original binding since Rousseau's ownership would explain the knowledge of the manuscript evident among Parisian antiquaries. Completer of Henri Sauval's Histoire et recherches des antiquitez de la ville de Paris, 1724, Rousseau seems to have been something of a collector of manuscripts. His bookplate has been recorded on several volumes, including British Library Add. Ms 22274, and BnF, Mss fr. 10138, 12435 and nouv. acq. fr. 2085. It was probably Rousseau who brought the present lot to the attention of Roger de Gaignières (1642-1715), for whom the presentation miniature was copied (H. Bouchot, Inventaire des dessins executés pour Roger de Gaignières..., no 274); the Gaignières drawing was then used for the plate in Montfaucon's Monuments de la monarchie française, 1729-1733, IV, p.366.
4. Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872): his lion stamp and Sir T.P. Middle Hill, with his number 127, on former lower pastedown; his number on label on spine; description of the volume loose inside upper cover. The book had presumably been rebound to attract a buyer like Phillipps. When comte Paul Durrieu visited the library in 1888, he was much struck by the book, to which he devoted an appendix in his ensuing publication: 'Les circonstances romanesques dans lesquelle s'accomplit le mariage de Anne de Graville avec son cousin Pierre de Balsac donnent un intérêt particulier au ms 127...On possède en lui le souvenir matériel d'une aventure d'amour qui fit un certain bruit dans le temps', 'Les manuscrits à peintures de la bibliothèque de Sir Thomas Phillipps at Cheltenham', Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des chartes, L, 1889, pp.381-432. British Library, Loan 36/1.
Berosus, Histoire des chaldées, a French translation by Pierre de Balsac: translator's dedicatory prologue to Anne de Graville, opening 'A vous madamoiselle Anne de graville salut et honneur...' and ending '...a sa louenge honneur et gloire eternele et infinye', f.6-12; books one to five, opening 'Non seulement apres mais auparavant...' and ending '...veritablement recite et redige par escript', ff.13-80; translator's dedicatory concluding chapter, opening 'Ie faiz fin a ce present oeuvre...celuy qui le vous offre comme a celle a qui du tout il est et veult demourer pour iamais et a aultre non voustre humble et obeissant. Cy finit le livre d'amour le quel a voulu estee ainsy nomme parce que amour ha induyt l'acteur et commande le faire', f.80r and v.
It is a testimonial to Anne's upbringing and scholarly interests that Pierre de Balsac should think Berosus's History a suitable love gift. Its chief appeal lay in its correspondences with Babylonian history as recorded in the Bible. The hero of the Babylonian account of the Flood could be equated with Noah; Nebuchadnezar was easily recognised. Berosus wrote in Greek and his work was transmitted through the writings of Greek scholars. Pierre de Balsac's French translation was presumably made from the Latin translation printed in Rome in 1498. In 1509 and 1510 further editions of the Latin text were published in Paris and it continued to be reprinted through succeeding centuries.
The Livre d'amour was intended to impress as a token of Pierre de Balsac's devotion and it is generously ornamented in gold and rich colours with emblems of his love for Anne. The Prologue and each book opens with a full border and large initial, while each chapter starts with a large initial with motto scrolls curving into the margin. Nowhere does Pierre mention his name and nowhere does he appear directly: perhaps to avoid the wrath of Anne's father should the book be discovered. In the miniature it is Anne who dominates, richly clad in crimson and gold before a canopy of blue and gold, with her attendants to the side. Pierre is represented by a hand descending from a cloud, directed by a small Cupid -- Love had taken him over and so controls his actions.
The illumination of this all important book was entrusted to Jean Pichore, active in Paris from 1502-1520 (see also lot 33). The delicately finished female faces and the gold embellishments of robes and hangings show Pichore's style and craftsmanship at their best. The miniature here can be compared to the presentation scene in Anthoine du Four's Vies des femmes célèbres of 1504, where the author offers his book to Queen Claude's mother, Anne of Brittany, Queen to Charles VIII and Louis XII, Nantes, musée Dobrée, Ms 17, f.1 (for Pichore and the Nantes manuscript, see C. Zöhl, Jean Pichore, Buchmaler, Graphiker und Verleger in Paris um 1500, 2003, Abb.13). The handsome borders and large initials share the fine technique and glowing colours of the miniature. Pichore's work was in the collections of France's leading patrons: in turning to Pichore, Pierre de Balsac was ensuring that the appearance of his gift would match his high aspirations and help to effect their realisation. Anne de Graville's autograph annotations suggest that the book meant all to her that he could have hoped. Her demonstrations of love were more dramatic and practical in consequence, when she braved her father's wrath and disinheritance to elope with her suitor. Their Livre d'amour survives as a most attractive and appealing embodiment of one of the great love stories of the sixteenth century.
The subject of the miniature is the offering of the book to Anne de Graville, f.5v; the genealogies of the rulers of Babylon are on ff.19v-21v. The full page borders with large initials are on ff.6, 14, 18, 22, 30, 36v.