BIBLE, Psalms in Latin -- Le pseaultier de David, contenant cent cinquante pseaumes. Avec les cantiques: ausquels les accens requis & necessaires pour bien prononcer chacun mot, sont diligemment observez. Paris: Jamet Mettayer, 1586.
4° (276 x 206mm). Title printed in red and black with engraved vignette. Full-page engraved illustration. Printed in red and black, ruled throughout in red. Retaining final blank NN4. (Some occasional spotting or light marking, some light offsetting of text, light browning and dampstaining, minor marginal worming on quires EE-NN.)
BINDING: French contemporary brown morocco tooled in silver [?by Clovis Eve], boards with central panel formed by triple fillets, the panel with a skeleton holding a scythe and an hourglass on a semé of teardrop tools with skull and crossed-bones cornerpieces, broad borders depicting a candelabra above, an aspergillum with crossed arrows below, to the sides tools of a cross and a coffin and a torch with bells, and cornerpieces of a candlestick crossed by a scythe and a spade, these tools interspersed with smaller tools of teardrops and skulls surrounded by palmleaves-crossed-with-bones tools, triple fillet borders, board edges tooled in silver, spine tooled in silver with a semé of teardrops and tooled in the centre with draped coffin upon a catafalque with 4 candlesticks at the corners, silver edges (silver slightly oxidised, extremities lightly rubbed, endpapers replaced [?in the 19th century]); modern brown cloth solander box. Cinq siècles d'ornements 46; A.R.A. Hobson, French and Italian Collectors, no. 27; Hobson/Culot2 65; Musea nostra, p. 39.
PROVENANCE: a member of the Compagnie des confrères de la mort -- erased inscription on title -- early annotation on NN3v -- de Mouchy (inscription on title recording the gift of the volume) -- Augustinian abbey of Sainte Croix, Saint-Lô, Rouen, 1704 (inscription on title) -- Louis Jean Nicholas de Monmerqué (1780-1860, pencilled inscription on upper pastedown) -- manuscript inscription on upper pastedown giving de Monmerqué as the author of the pencilled note -- Sir Thomas Phillipps (pencilled M[iddle] H[ill] C[atalogue] on upper pastedown, sale, Sotheby's, 17-18 June 1935, lot 289, to:) -- [Maggs Bros, London] -- [Arthur Rau, Paris, sold to:] -- Charles Gillet -- Edmée Maus (booklabel).
A FINE BINDING FOR A MEMBER OF HENRI III'S COMPAGNIE DES CONFRèRES DE LA MORT. ONE OF ONLY TWO SUCH BINDINGS RECORDED IN PRIVATE COLLECTIONS. The fervently religious Henri III had met Charles Borromeo, the Archbishop of Milan and nephew of Pope Pius IV, in 1574, and was so suffused with the future saint's zeal for the Counter Reformation that, with Borromeo's encouragement, he established a series of penitential confraternities, certain that religious reform advanced by a core of penitential groups was the only means to save France from the religious and civil turmoil that seemed her destiny. The first three confraternities formed were the Congregation roiale des penitens de l'Annonciation de Nostre Dame, the Confrérie des Hieronymites, and the Congrégation de l'oratoire de Notre Dame de vie saine (for two bindings for these confraternities see the following lot and lot 26). In 1585 Henri III founded the Compagnie des confrères des morts, which, unlike the confraternities that preceded it, was a small group subject to a severe discipline, chosen from amongst the King's entourage and numbering but nineteen members. These nineteen would meet each Wednesday at the chapel in the Louvre for prayers and litany, after which, according to the papal nuncio, 'on entend le bruit de nombreux coups dont la chair est flagellée, dans le silence et les ténèbres, un assez long espace de temps' (Nixon, PML, p. 217). Each member of the confraternity possessed a copy of Le pseaultier de David and L'office de la Vierge Marie, both of which were printed in a similar format by Jamet Mettayer, the King's printer; these volumes are all uniformly bound, presumably by Clovis Eve, the King's binder.
Of these presumed 38 original bindings for the Compagnie des confrères de la mort, a census by Amédée Boinet lists nine, including the copy in the Louvre which was destroyed by fire in 1871 ('Reliures à emblèmes macabres de la Compagnie des confrères de la mort (1586)', in Gutenberg Jahrbuch, Mainz, 1956, pp. 341-345) and A.R.A. Hobson adds a further two, including this. To these eleven can be added the late Sir Paul Getty's copy (H.G. Fletcher, ed., The Wormsley Library, London, 1999, no.38), bringing the total of recorded bindings to twelve, of which eleven survive; of these, all save the Getty copy and the Wittock copy are in institutional collections. Adams B-1474 (erroneously calling for a second part collating A-H4, I2, presumably a separate work published by Mettayer bound up with the Cambridge copy of Le pseaultier).