Chronique dite de Baudouin d'Avesnes, in French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
Illuminated by the Maître d'Egerton 1070.
Chronique dite de Baudoin d'Avesnes, en français, Manuscrit enluminé sur vélin
[Paris, vers 1410]
Enlumin© par Maîtres d'Egerton 1070.
355 x 250mm. 252 leaves, 1-2012, 218, 224 COMPLETE, with early foliation i-xiixxxii in brown roman numerals in upper outer corners, catchwords in inner lower corners of final folios, cut original signatures marks on fols 99-102 (i), 192 (r) and 249-50 (y), and 17th-century binder's quire signatures in lower inner corner of first folio of each gathering, double column of 37 lines written in brown/black ink in lettre bâtarde between four verticals and 38 horizontals ruled in plummet, justification: 210 x 190mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, two-line initials alternately of blue and burnished gold with pen-work flourishing of red and black, opening folio with an ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURE OF THE GARDEN OF EDEN accompanied by a LARGE FOLIATE INITIAL and marginal sprays (very slight darkening of parchment and minor rubbing, especially in margins, of opening folio and some small worm-holes in first and final folios, three in the miniature, some loss of pigment in the marginal sprays). English 19th-century, panelled, red hard-grain morocco gilt by H. Stamper, upper cover with the arms of the 4th Duke of Newcastle.
1. The marginal sprays on folio 1 surround a small shield with a field of argent that is now oxidised and with the charge abraded; it presumably carried the arms of the original owner. The blue-flowered sprays above and below the shield and within the ground of the initial seem likely to be his badge. They may be speedwell or, in French, véronique.
2. Library of the Château d'Anet: with the characteristic Anet sign and shelfmark, bcxi, in upper margin of first folio. After the death of Anne de Bavière, princesse de Condé the manuscripts were sold (Pierre Gandouin, Paris 1724). This was the tenth manuscript to be listed in the Catalogue des manuscrits trouvez après le décès de Madame la Princesse, dans son château Royal d'Anet.
3. Guyon de Sardière: his signature beneath the text on ff.1 and 252v. The manuscript was no 1402 in the 1759 catalogue of his books (Barrois, Paris).
4. Duc de la Villière: purchased with the rest of the Guyon de Sardière library, although not appearing in the 1783 catalogue of the de la Villière books published by De Bure in Paris in 1783
5. Thorpe's catalogues 1829-30 (no 195), 1830 (no 12524) and 1832 (no 358)
6. Library of the Dukes of Newcastle, Clumber, Worksop: acquired by the 4th Duke of Newcastle and sold after the death of the 7th Duke at Sotheby's 15 February 1938, lot 1158
7. Sotheby's 3 December 1951, lot 12
Chronique dite de Baudouin d'Avesnes in 633 chapters opening 'Au commencement du temps que dieu ot cree ciel & terre et aourne de toute creature...' (f.1) and closing 'Pilate qui fu meu deces paroles en fist plusieurs occurre mais toutevoies fist il leuvre laissiez pour la paour de lempereur' (f.252v)
The title and rubric on the opening folio read 'Croniques abregees dez la creacion du monde jusques au de lincarncion n[ost]re seigneur - Et premierment com[m]ent dieu forma adam a sa semblance. & Eve de la coste adam. Et de leur lignie', and introduce the chronicle history that was probably compiled for Baudouin d'Avesnes, seigneur de Beaumont between 1278 and 1281. In the 15th century the text was usually given the title Tésor des Histoires or Trésor de sapience. Unlike the Histoire ancienne, which it draws upon, it was a true universal history, and in its fullest form it covered everything from the Creation to the date of writing; in the early section the Old Testament narrative is constantly interrupted by accounts of contemporary events from other cultures, and even Christian history is accompanied by accounts of the Goths, Huns, Vandals and Tartars. Several of the surviving manuscripts contain only part of the complete Chronique and the reign of Tiberius, where the present manuscript ends, is a common point for division. Jung lists 23 manuscripts beginning with the Creation; the present copy was not known to him: M.R. Jung, La légende de Troie en France au moyen age (1996).
The charming miniature of God introducing Adam and Eve to the pleasures, even the forbidden pleasures, of the Garden of Eden was painted by the Egerton master, one of the illuminators working on luxury books for the French court in the early part of the 15th century. He is named after a Book of Hours in the British Library that he illuminated in collaboration with the Boucicaut Master, and which was later completed for King René of Anjou. He often worked alongside other illuminators and was sensitive to the achievements of those he came into contact with; some of his miniatures in Egerton 1070 show the influence of the de Limbourg brothers. This miniature with its delicate, almost powdery finish and characteristic flecked sky is a particularly attractive example of his style. He paints with a refined, minute, almost pointillist, technique combining subtle colouring with an attractive naturalism and paying particular attention to the dramatic implications of the interactions of the characters: in this case God's emphatic instruction to an attentive Adam while Eve abstractedly follows behind. It is an eloquent demonstration of the reasons for his popularity, and why he was sought out to illuminate manuscripts destined for such princely patrons as Jean de Berry, Jean sans Peur, Duke of Burgundy, Louis of Orléans and Isabelle de Bavière.
The beautifully painted flower-sprays of border and initial presumably hold the key to the identity of the patron for whom this manuscript was made. The choice of both text and illuminator suggests that he was a member of the court in Paris.
The miniature is as follows:
In the foreground God leads Adam by the wrist towards the entrance of the Garden of Eden and points out the Tree of Knowledge, Eve follows; behind them within a rocky landscape are various beasts and trees with perching birds. The staves of the large initial containing curling acanthus fronds are set against a burnished gold ground and infill with sprays of small blue flowers, perhaps speedwell; sprays of the same flowers spring from the terminals into the side margin.