PSALTER, psalms 81-150, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [Paris, c.1530]90 x 60 mm. iii + 109 + v leaves, foliation 135-243 skipping a leaf after 209, followed here, 18 lines written in black ink in a lettre bâtarde betwen two verticals and 19 horizontals ruled in red, justification: 75 x 50mm, rubrics in red, one- and two-line initials in gold or silver on black grounds, 10 FULL-PAGE MINIATURES WITH BORDERS OF BRANCHES, FEATHERS AND SILVER TEXT-PANELS on red or blue grounds (trimmed into borders, a few text pages slightly worn, figure of Bathsheba rubbed f.213, silver tarnished). c.1700 midnight blue morocco gilt, covers with a double-fillet shaped outer panel, fleuron tools, crowned initial L and crowned double A monogram, spine gilt in five compartments, two lettered and three with fleuron and foliate tools, turn-ins gilt, by the doreur of Luc-Antoine Boyvet (joints cracked, extremities rubbed).
1. The style of the illumination points to the production of the manuscript in Paris around 1530. The branches and feathers that repeatedly appear in the borders are probably badges of the original patron.
2. The binding elegantly imitates one executed for Louis XIII (1601-1643) and Anne of Austria (1601-1666), who married in 1615, now BnF Smith Lesouëf 477, attributed to Macé Ruette c.1635. The 31 similar bindings listed as part of Anne of Austria's collection by E. Quentin Bauchart, Les femmes bibliophiles en France, I, 1886, pp.191-248, have recently been shown to be antiquarian imitations, one of a number of archaicising designs created for a closely related circle of bibliophiles between about 1690 and 1710. The present Psalter adds a previously unrecorded example to the first group of 'Anne of Austria' bindings with a single fillet round the central compartment. They may have originated for Hiérome Duvivier (c.1660-c.1700), since his initials HD appear on some of the volumes. For these bindings, see I. de Conihaut and P. Ract-Madoux, Reliures françaises du XVIIe siècle, chefs d'oeuvre du musée Condé, exh. cat. 2002, nos 27-30.
Psalms 81-150, ff.135-240; Prayers to the Holy Sacrament ff. 242-243v.
This was originally part of a portable, but thick, single-volume Psalter. For greater convenience it was rebound as two volumes when it received its present binding.
The illumination of this little Psalter is an interesting demonstration of the cross-overs and interrrelationships in the publication of printed Horae and manuscript production, for the style of painting is more familiar in Books of Hours from the publishing house of Gillet and Germain Hardouin in the first third of the 16th century. In contrast to the productions of other publishers and printers, their Books of Hours were coloured in series; they appear to have employed a workshop of specialist illuminators to colour their printed editions as they were produced: see C. Zöhl, 'Germain Hardouins Oktavausgaben der 1520er und 1530er Jahre', in Horae B.M.V., ed. H. Tenschert and I. Nettkoven, 2003, iii, pp.1023-26. This practice seems particularly attributable to Germain who apparently himself also acted as an illuminator: in a colophon of 1514 (Lacombe 251) he refers to himself 'in arte litterarie picture peritissimus'.
The miniatures of the present Psalter are peopled with stiff little figures, whose pale faces have large eyes and lips of an intense red. Landscapes and interiors are somewhat schematically and hastily described: interiors indicated by marbled floors and grey brick walls while hilly landscapes have low horizons that are only occasionally interrupted by single trees or rocks. These are all features close to the work of an illuminator who painted a number of Books of Hours published by Germain Hardouin, which according to their almanacs are datable between c.1509 and 1538. The present Psalter is the only known manuscript illuminated by this artist, who may also have been responsible for the elegant initials in gold and silver on black which invest every page with a manifest luxury.
The subjects of the miniatures are:
f.135 David brings Goliath's head to Jerusalem
f.160v in two registers, Victories of David (above) Saul's attempt to kill David
f.186v Abigail approaching David with humility, and in the background the preceding scene of Nabal answering David's servants
f.192 David and a man from Saul's camp with the king's crown, in the background David ordering the death of Saul's killer
f.209bis v Music-making angels and men, with a panel inscribed 'fortior humilitas qua se vigit david fortitudine qua hostes'
f.213 David and Bathseba
f.216v David giving the letter for Joab to Uriah
f.223v David with the prophet Nathan
f.231v in two registers, Joab kneeling in front of David tending a panel inscribed 'De Israel octoginta milia pugnatorum de iuda quingenta'(above), David in penitence
f.241v Angels displaying the eucharist in a monstrance