PSALTER OF ST AUGUSTINE, PRAYERS AND DEVOTIONS, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM AND PAPER
[France, mid-17th century]
160 x 108mm. 45 vellum leaves interleaved with 9 paper leaves with engravings, with two blank paper endleaves at front and four at end, 17 lines written in black ink in a roman bookhand, introductory words sometimes in a display italic hand, justification: 120 x 65mm, rubrics and one-line initials in red, two- and three-line initials of red, blue or gold usually accompanied by painted flowers or sprays, line-endings of golden leaves, ILLUMINATED TITLEPAGE, every page with THREE-SIDED BORDERS with decorative motifs in gold and colours in the upper and lower margins and naturalistic flowers and insects in the outer margin, and the openings of prayers or devotions facing NINE DEVOTIONAL PRINTS (minimal cropping to lower borders of five leaves, occasional minor and inconsequential darkening or spotting). Contemporary French panelled red morocco, two silver catches, with illuminated engravings pasted inside the covers (corners rubbed, upper joint cracking, lacking straps and clasps). Brown cloth-covered box.
The production of devotional manuscripts that combine lavish decorative illumination in borders and initials with independently produced miniatures or engravings -- to supply the images from Sacred History -- was a well known practice in northern Europe during the 15th century. This attractive little prayerbook offers an unusual and interesting instance of the continuation of the practice into the 17th century, exploiting the easy availability of accomplished engraved images and combining them with the individual devotional requirements that could only be satisfied by a specially compiled manuscript text. Each engraving was selected and placed to face the opening of a relevant text.
f.1v Crucifixion, signed A. Popina: facing the titlepage
f.3v St Augustine offering his heart to the Virgin and Child, by Jean Messager (fl. 1615-1649): facing the opening of the Psalter of St Augustine
f.15v Portrait of St Bernard, by Raphael Sadeler II (1584-1632): St Bernard's prayer to the Virgin opening 'Per te accessum habemus'
f.17v Virgin and Child enthroned: facing prayer to the Virgin opening 'O Virgo in omni tempore Mater Dei'
f.22v Trinity: facing prayer to the Trinity opening 'Tribue Domine ut donec in hoc fragili corpore'
f.27 Pentecost, signed 'I. Messager excud.' and 'L. Gaultier sculpt.': facing prayer to the Holy Spirit opening 'O Divini amor Numinis'
f.30v S. Carlo Borromeo in prayer before a crucifix, by Raphael Sadeler II: facing a prayer of confession addressed to Christ Redeemer opening 'Caelestis Rex & Dominator'
f.39v King David in penitence, by Léonard Gaultier (?1561-1630/41): facing the opening of the Penitential Psalms
f.44 Last Supper: facing the opening of prayers to be said at communion
A pair of coloured engravings signed by 'la veusve gourdelle' and dated 1591, Christ blessing and the Virgin, are pasted inside the covers.